M’s Reportedly Re-Sign Felix for 7/175

Dave · February 7, 2013 at 11:45 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners have been clear that they want to re-sign Felix Hernandez. Felix has been clear that he wants to re-sign. This was the winter where we all expected a new contract to get done. Well, according to Bob Nightengale, the two sides have agreed to a new deal that totals $175 million over the next seven years. Felix was already under contract for $40 million over the next two seasons at $40 million, so this is really an extension of 5/135, assuming Nightengale has the numbers right and part of the money isn’t a vesting option or something.

There’s no way around it – this is a huge contract, and for any pitcher, a contract this large could easily turn out to be a disaster. 5/135 means that the Mariners are going to start paying Felix $25 million per year starting this season, so he’s either going to take up nearly 30% of the payroll or the payroll is going to have to go way up. Tying up a huge chunk of a team’s total budget in any pitcher has a chance to go south, even one as special as Felix.

That said, this is a gamble the team had to make. There’s not much evidence that teams can attract fans with big splashy free agent signings, but there’s no question that getting rid of franchise players that the fan base is attached to can have an extremely negative effect on a fan base. The Mariners have been hemorrhaging fans for years, and they have a serious credibility problem in the area, as people are tired of losing teams and skeptical of the ownership’s motivations. Trading Felix would have been a knife in the heart of what’s left of the fan base in Seattle, and it would have taken a long time to get those fans back, even if the team started winning again.

The Mariners best hope for relevance is to win with Felix, and the only way to do that is to keep him around for the long term. If they can put a quality roster around the city’s beloved son, they have a chance to get people back to Safeco, get the revenues flowing again, and get the franchise back on track. Had they let Felix go, they very well could have just been the new Cleveland Indians, who haven’t drawn since the mid-90s even when they won because the fan base left after the team went into perpetual rebuilding.

Now, at least, the Mariners have given the city of Seattle a reason to believe that they’re actually trying to win, rather than simply seeking profit maximization. That, in and of itself, won’t get the fans back to the ballpark, but putting a winning team around Felix has much higher revenue potentials than trying to win with whatever young players they could have traded him for.

The Mariners needed to keep Felix. Keeping Felix has turned out to be very expensive. That said, a bet on Felix’s health and future is a better bet than hoping you can convince an exasperated and alienated fan base to come root for players that they associate with organizational greed and an unwillingness to spend.

The point of developing young, cost-controlled players is to free up a majority of the budget to retain your best players. Getting rid of Felix to get more young, cost controlled players wouldn’t have pushed the team closer to winning. They needed Felix and young, cost controlled players. Now they have Felix, and they have him for a long time.

Correction – now we have Felix, and we have him for a long time.


62 Responses to “M’s Reportedly Re-Sign Felix for 7/175”

  1. ChrisFB on February 7th, 2013 11:48 am

    I know how appropriate “sigh” is much of the time when talking Mariners, but perhaps, at least for a little while, the tagline can change from “Seattle Mariners blog for analysis, commentary, and… sigh.” to “Seattle Mariners blog for analysis, commentary, and Felix”?

  2. 92-93 on February 7th, 2013 11:50 am

    “That said, this is a gamble the team had to make. There’s not much evidence that teams can attract fans with big splashy free agent signings, but there’s no question that getting rid of franchise players that the fan base is attached to can have an extremely negative effect on a fan base. The Mariners have been hemorrhaging fans for years, and they have a serious credibility problem in the area, as people are tired of losing teams and skeptical of the ownership’s motivations. Trading Felix would have been a knife in the heart of what’s left of the fan base in Seattle, and it would have taken a long time to get those fans back, even if the team started winning again.”

    I could’ve sworn I was reading the justification from 7 years ago for JP Ricciardi jumping the gun and extending Vernon Wells at market value a full year before he had to.

    “The point of developing young, cost-controlled players is to free up a majority of the budget to retain your best players. Getting rid of Felix to get more young, cost controlled players wouldn’t have pushed the team closer to winning”

    There was another option – ask Felix to accept an extension at a discount because you’re giving it to him 2 years in advance, and if he isn’t amenable to that you do nothing at all. I fail to see why, with 2 years left on his contract, this became a SIGN or TRADE decision.

  3. spuuky on February 7th, 2013 11:50 am

    I know that contract is absolutely gigantic, but really, what better way is there to spend it than on Felix Hernandez?

    Sure, there’s a chance it could be crippling, but imagining them without Felix would be too depressing. They have just given new meaning to the phrase “Long live the King.”

  4. Sports on a Shtick on February 7th, 2013 11:53 am

    I do declare the Mariners offseason a rousing success.

  5. _Hutch_ on February 7th, 2013 11:55 am

    I’ve got months to ruminate on how large the contract is and how it could hamstring the organization down the line and how it’s kind of stupid to sign any pitcher for that long and how Felix had very un-Felix fastball velocity for a bunch of this season. For right now I’m just going to kick up my feet, sit back and find as many Yankee fans on the internet to gloat to.

  6. mrakbaseball on February 7th, 2013 11:59 am

    Finally, some good news for a change.

  7. californiamariner on February 7th, 2013 12:01 pm

    Finally, some good news this offseason. I know it is a ton of money, but come on, if the M’s don’t lock up Felix, they might as well quit. This had to be done.

  8. Des71 on February 7th, 2013 12:03 pm

    This is good news for Mariner fans, and it is likely another signal along with the upgrades to Safeco Field, that the team must be close to a big money deal for local television rights.

  9. Jamison_M on February 7th, 2013 12:06 pm

    We failed to sign Josh Hamilton for $25MM a season so we extend Felix for $25MM a season… fair enough. So we failed to trade the farm for Justin Upton, now we can trade the farm for Giancarlo Stanton… That makes sense… right?

  10. The Dreeze on February 7th, 2013 12:11 pm

    Is the fear in this contract that he’ll get injured?

    I thought with the revelations about the insurance on ARod’s contract, that teams were covered in case of injury.

  11. evolvingcaveman on February 7th, 2013 12:12 pm

    With all the new TV contracts on the horizon do you think Felix, at 25mil annually, will be in the top 5 highest paid pitchers in five years time?

  12. stevemotivateir on February 7th, 2013 12:12 pm

    There was another option – ask Felix to accept an extension at a discount because you’re giving it to him 2 years in advance, and if he isn’t amenable to that you do nothing at all. I fail to see why, with 2 years left on his contract, this became a SIGN or TRADE decision.

    They got a discount last time. It’s easy to forget because it was back-loaded. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t pursue any means of leverage they could.

    I thought it was pretty clear why this became a necessary issue to address. Attendance. Trading really wasn’t an option anyway, given Felix is the lone face of the franchise right now, and the rotation already has a glaring hole, with another plugged by Beavan.

  13. Rusty on February 7th, 2013 12:12 pm

    Is this the 2nd biggest contract, in raw non-inflation-adjusted dollars, for someone who is 26 years old or younger?

  14. californiamariner on February 7th, 2013 12:15 pm

    I’d like to see somebody that is way smarter than me find out the difference in attendance numbers last year for games Felix pitched and games he didn’t pitch. I think he’s worth a lot of money :)

  15. leftfield limey on February 7th, 2013 12:19 pm

    Provided he does not get injured Felix will be worth it(won’t he?).

    Can teams get insurance on players? If so what would be the annual premium on a player like Felix for insuring against injury?

  16. shortbus on February 7th, 2013 12:21 pm

    Some back-of-the-napkin math. At AAV $25 million Felix will be paid like roughly a 5 win player, with that number declining slightly as the price of a win inflates over the length of the deal. Felix has averaged 4.7 WAR per 200 IP for his career, and 5 WAR per 200 his last four years.

    And he hasn’t peaked.

    I feel there’s about an equal chance Felix is being underpaid by year six as there is he’s overpaid by then. This just looks like a good deal all around.

  17. GhostofMarinersPast on February 7th, 2013 12:21 pm

    Bravo! I was down on all of our moves so far this year! Now I know I won’t have to live in a world where I watch Felix pitching in pinstripes. Yeah it’s a lot of money and the likelyhood that he pitches at an elite level into his early 30′s isn’t extremely high. But it would have been far more regrettable to trade him away. This is the guy that, in 20 years, will still be the face of our beloved franchise. This is also a statement move. A commitment to the fans. I can’t wait to watch Zunino catching Felix. I’m blubbering like a teenage girl that just got a feel copped by the biebs.
    So damn happy!

  18. msfanmike on February 7th, 2013 12:22 pm

    I am very glad he signed and I hope the organization does purchase an adequate amount of injury insurance coverage.

    It’s still two years before Felix becomes a 10/5 player, so trade rumors will probably continue to swirl for at least a little while longer. He now makes the going rate for an Ace. Some team is always going to need an Ace. Hopefully the Mariners don’t waste his prime years with a bad supporting cast.

  19. MrZDevotee on February 7th, 2013 12:31 pm

    re: Market Value-
    When you sign a guy this long you usually got him for UNDER market value over the duration of the contract.

    Assuming (big if here) he’s healthy for the length of the contract, and continues to be dominant, 5 years from now a “Top 3 in all of baseball”-type pitcher is gonna earn a heckuva lot more than 27 million/year.

    Felix really is a rare commodity too. You don’t find 8 year MLB veterans who dominate their position and are merely 26 years old. You also don’t find hard throwing right handers with 8 year histories with NO injury worries. And even rarer for a fastball pitcher, Felix has become dominant by SLOWING down his fastball and using precision and offspeed stuff, so the injury risk has diminished as he’s become a better “pitcher”.

    This is awesome news. Period. We have a top pitcher in all of baseball. We paid him. He’s here to stay.

    Thank you, Felix. Reality is, you could have waited and made WAY MORE than you just signed for (’cause the idiots would have been out in high numbers to bid on you).

    I also love that the faces of this organization’s identity through the years have all been immediately identifiable by first names– Alvin, Edgar, and Felix. And all were A1 class acts.

  20. shortbus on February 7th, 2013 12:33 pm

    @msfanmike: “It’s still two years before Felix becomes a 10/5 player”

    This is a good point. Since there’s no chance the team will trade Felix in the next two years, I assume there’s a no trade clause in the deal. Might as well toss it in there since he has to approve any trade after year two anyway.

  21. omahajoe on February 7th, 2013 12:34 pm

    Great News heading into ST next week! Here’s to the next 7 years!!!!!

  22. MrZDevotee on February 7th, 2013 12:37 pm

    I’m guessing the New York Yankees brass just angrily crossed off a highlighted area on their calendar for 2 years from now that said “Sign Felix”.

    That feels good.

    Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if their big push to lower payroll over the next two seasons was ALL aimed at being able to sign Felix. *laugh*

    I’m sure the Daily News has a headline the next couple days that says “Maybe Not PEDS, But Felix H Is Definitely On Drugs!”

  23. BPhipps on February 7th, 2013 12:38 pm

    I love Dave, and consider him by far the best in the business. But I completely disagree with him here. The M’s had 2 years of control, which represents a valuable option against Felix getting hurt or losing effectiveness. If, at the end of those 2 years, he is still healthy, you can extend him then. Greinke just got 24.5 million a year, 6 years. The Dodgers seemed to blow through the market a bit by giving him that. Say the next best bid was 23.5 a year. Hamel’s just signed for 24 million a year. How much more would Felix command? My guess is not much, meaning they gave up their 2 year option and added risk for very little in future savings.

    Dave has done good work in the past holding conventional baseball wisdom up for scrutiny and demanding quantifiable analysis to support it. But here, where is the evidence that trading felix for a monster haul would send fans flocking to the exits? Where is the evidence that losing Felix 2 years from now but adding 25 million a year in additional value would be so bad?

  24. F-Rod on February 7th, 2013 12:45 pm

    good deal. Had to do it. If Felix stays healthy there is no way he is signing a 5 year deal, he would sign a 7+ year deal at this point. This is a great deal for all parties. Felix earns a bit more for two years, then earns a hair less then he would have got. And if all works out he will still be worthy of one more big deal at 33.

  25. _Hutch_ on February 7th, 2013 12:46 pm

    “And he hasn’t peaked.”

    Not to be a Debbie Downer one of the best days of recent M’s history, but you could make a fairly reasonable argument based on fastball velocity and raw numbers that that is not true.

  26. bubba_gump on February 7th, 2013 12:58 pm

    I don’t care about market value or $/win. The M’s just locked up the best right hander I have ever seen. The team I’ve cheered for all my life finally put on their bigboy pants and are paying top dollar for top talent….feels great!

  27. FelixFanChris420 on February 7th, 2013 1:07 pm

    Finally some good news this offseason. Glad that Felix is gonna be around for most of his career. Any info on a full or limited no trade clause or is it to early to find out that kind of info.

    Long live the King!

  28. Westside guy on February 7th, 2013 1:09 pm

    Right now, I’m not going to think about value. I’m going to think about the fact that we’ve got Felix locked up. It’s a lone bright spot in what’s otherwise been a disappointing off-season.

    However, it still doesn’t make us any better than we were yesterday.

  29. bubba_gump on February 7th, 2013 1:13 pm

    “Finally some good news this offseason. Glad that Felix is gonna be around for most of his career. Any info on a full or limited no trade clause or is it to early to find out that kind of info.
    Long live the King!”

    He gets10/5 in two years. I’d be surprised to hear about a no trade clause.

  30. thedude1987 on February 7th, 2013 1:14 pm

    Westside, if you think he has peaked you should look into Roy Halladay.

  31. bubba_gump on February 7th, 2013 1:23 pm

    “However, it still doesn’t make us any better than we were yesterday.”

    But it makes us better for 2015 and beyond.

  32. amnizu on February 7th, 2013 1:45 pm

    Well, I guess I can stop bitching about the TV screen being the only real money the team spent this off season.

    Overall, like the deal. It reduces payroll flexibility past 2014 but provides a top end starter, the hardest commodity on the market to secure, for 7 season. Seems like a no brainier move for both sides. I’m glad it got done and I now have a reason to turn on a game every fifth day for the next seven years.

  33. msfanmike on February 7th, 2013 1:47 pm

    Shoppach contract is now official. The Mariners DFA’d Kelley in order to make room. Not exactly the “irons in the fire” sequence of events I was hoping to hear, but it is something.

    They really had to wait a week to make this decision/announcement?

    Billy Beane traded away half his team (twice) while knitting a sweater, running 10 miles per day and recording his debut album … within the same timeframe.

  34. BPhipps on February 7th, 2013 1:56 pm

    As has been noted many times, the Mariners need to increase their overall talent level if they hope to contend. Wasn’t trading Felix for a basket of controllable talent, and applying the 25 million a year to signing good free agent(s) the simplest route to improving the team?

    I know you all love Felix. I do too. But from an objective perspective, I feel this move made them less likely to win any time soon. Not more.

  35. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on February 7th, 2013 2:02 pm

    Here’s a question, Dave. Do you like the contract if we had no fan base issues? Strip away that reality and pretend we were LA or Texas, with attendance in the top 10 most of the time . . .what is your straight up per win value assessment? From Fangraphs’ analysis and adding in furture inflation and t.v. revenue spikes, aren’t we still in the modest bargain category if he averages say 4.5 WAR over the span of the contract (to account for some level of decline as he enters his 30′s)? I understand the injury risk can wipe out any value whatsoever as it can with any player . . .

  36. downwarddog on February 7th, 2013 2:06 pm

    Excellent, the Mariners will continue to be worth watching once every five days. Hopefully, by the third year of this deal, the other four days will be equally entertaining.

  37. smb on February 7th, 2013 2:17 pm

    God love you, Felix Hernandez. I’m breaking my personal embargo on giving this ownership even one more dollar to buy a new authentic Felix jersey, since for the first time in his career, I finally feel like I can call him a Mariner for life. I feel like finally, at along last, there is no longer a real (if potentially remote) risk of there someday being a debate about whose hat he’ll wear in the hall…

  38. 300ZXNA on February 7th, 2013 2:35 pm

    Considering the inflation in contracts due to all of the TV rights contracts blowing up, provided that the bubble doesn’t burst too soon and if the M’s can get themselves a top dollar contract in 2 years, this contract may look like a bargain in 3-4 years. Everyone was blow away by the Ryan Braun extension, but in light of Votto, it is now looking like a good deal for the Brewers.

    On a completely different and entirely speculative note, is there any chance that the M’s will front load Hernandez’s contract since they weren’t able to land any of the big FA’s? Since they were prepared to pay Felix $20M and Hamilton $25M, would they consider large lump of say $40M to Felix in the first year, thus allowing the extra salary to be used, and further allowing for extra flexibility in the ensuing years?

  39. G-Man on February 7th, 2013 2:47 pm

    In recent years, insurance has been available for rolling three-year periods. IOW, the M’s can get coverage for (most?) of his salary for 2013-2015 right now. At the end of this season, they can get it through 2016. Later years are at their risk.

    The TV rights 300ZNA mentioned make an interesting angle, looking at it the other way: maybe they’ll gt more $ for the rights now that they’ve signed The King.

  40. Jopa on February 7th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Best news ever. Not an overpay at all. Every team takes a huge risk for injury or decline when giving ANY player a mega-deal. You have to do it if you want to play with the big boys.

    This one the one thing I wanted this off-season. There will be a cascading of other positive effects of this signing beyond having the King here another seven years.

  41. Jon on February 7th, 2013 3:20 pm

    I agree with your opinion, Dave, that the M’s likely concluded that extending Felix gave them the best chance to re-build their frayed relations with fans and put themselves in a position to improve attendance materially. But is too late? Is this a Hail Mary? Have they allowed to the franchise to falter so much that they’ll never be able to recapture the buzz? They have only themselves to blame.

  42. Seattleken on February 7th, 2013 3:34 pm

    Great move by the Mariners. While there is a risk adding 5 years at 135 million, it needed to be done. Waiting even a year and certainly two would in my mind insure that Hernandez is gone. Playing on a winner and being offered 200 million contract would be just too much to turn down.

    Felix traded for security now, rather than the chance to be a free agent – that was the only leverage the M’s had. They used it well!

    No question in my mind I’d rather have Felix at 27M a year then Greinke at 24.5M!

  43. miscreant on February 7th, 2013 3:45 pm

    This is fantastic! However the Mariners still need a pitcher or two to pitch behind him in the rotation and they could still use a lead off hitter…

  44. Spanky on February 7th, 2013 3:57 pm

    FINALLY!!! Some good news this winter! Let’s get this done now! Aaaannnd…


    King Felix is ours!

  45. Westside guy on February 7th, 2013 4:00 pm

    Westside, if you think he has peaked you should look into Roy Halladay.

    I’m not sure how you turned my comment about the team not being better today than yesterday into “Felix has peaked”.

    The team already had Felix for two more years – this signing doesn’t make them any better, because it didn’t change the existing roster. They still have glaring holes to fill. I’m glad the M’s locked him up… but it doesn’t change the composition of the team.

  46. tmac9311 on February 7th, 2013 4:17 pm

    I’m looking forward to the yankees rumors, because rumors don’t have to make sense. If any M’s fans sweated those stupid rumors before, now you can all sit back and laugh at them with the rest of us. Having a guy play his whole career with a team doesn’t win championships, but damn is it a good feeling. Hopefully Z has a plan we can’t see, and can let the King prove he’s the best on the big stage during this contract.

  47. Seattleken on February 7th, 2013 4:23 pm

    I agree the team is not going to win more games in 2013 by signing Felix to an extension. But the alternative of Felix in July and the M’s 10 games out and having to hear every twobit journalist and blogger saying that Seattle has to trade him now – makes this extension worth it to me as a M’s fan.

    I will say this off season is a failure but I give this extension and A- and the Morales trade a B. The rest of the moves are all F’s, including dumping Kelley and keeping some serious crap on the 40 man.

  48. thedude1987 on February 7th, 2013 4:31 pm

    My fault Westside… that was aimed at Hutch.

  49. californiamariner on February 7th, 2013 4:41 pm

    And now Joe Saunders!

  50. Jeremy on February 7th, 2013 4:42 pm

    I agree with BPhipps. I know everyone’s excited, and I know Felix is an Cy Young-caliber pitcher, but the following players were also Cy Young-caliber pitchers at one point:
    Johan Santana
    Tim Lincecum
    Brandon Webb
    Jake Peavy
    Josh Beckett
    Roy Halladay
    Dontrelle Willis
    Mark Prior
    Chris Carpenter
    Ubaldo Jiminez
    Tim Hudson

    Of course, these players–though elite for a time–all faded. These players’ fans would probably have been as excited as we are now with Felix if their teams had signed their guy to a long-term contract. However, pretty much all of these pitchers (except Halladay–and maybe Hudson, you could argue) regressed from their peak so quickly that their fans would be complaining about the long-term contract that they originally loved.

    I’m glad we have Felix, but I wish it was 5-6 years instead. And why couldn’t it be front loaded (for this year at least)?

  51. Breadbaker on February 7th, 2013 5:37 pm

    The next time we have a Hamilton or Upton situation, at least we will be able to say “Felix will be around as long as you are around.” I think that has value. It may not be decisive value to some players, but there have to be plenty of free agents and people who have no-trade clauses who would want to have Felix as a guaranteed teammate.

  52. Pete Livengood on February 7th, 2013 6:08 pm

    This isn’t aimed *just* at BPhipps, because several others have made the same point (this is far too risky a move when we already had Felix for the next 2 years at roughly $20M), but the main point of Dave’s post – which I agree with – is that FOR THE MARINERS this could no longer be simply a baseball decision. It has to be a business decision as well, and I think Dave made the case for why that is so very well.

    Somebody above asked about attendance differences when Felix is pitching, and it is a good question that illustrates Dave’s point well. Last year, the Mariners drew 1,171,920 (an average of 21,258 over 81 games). In 18 home starts by Felix, the Mariners drew 436,515 (an average of 24,251 per game). However, Felix’s impact isn’t measured by the difference in those two averages, because Felix was a big part of why the overall attendance per game average was as high as it was. If you subtract the attendance in games pitched by Felix, the Mariners drew 735,405 over 63 games – an average of only 11,673 per game. Basically, on average, attendance DOUBLED in 2012 when Felix pitched. Do you really think the Mariners could afford to leave their fan base with the impression that they might let Felix go?

    Beyond that, this is a pretty fair contract, in terms of Felix’s expected value over the life of the contract.

    By fWAR, Felix has averaged 6.0 WAR over both the last 3-year and 4-year periods (his age 24-26 and 23-26 seasons, respectively), and rWAR has him a bit lower (4.9 WAR/year over the last 3 years, and 5.1 WAR over the last 4). Felix is still a year away from what most aging curves would say is his expected peak, and he has been extremely durable and mostly injury free for his MLB career (since his first full year in MLB, he has never failed to make at least 30 starts, and hasn’t thrown less than 200 innings in a season since his age 21 year, when the Mariners were restricting his innings; even then, he has never thrown less than 190 innings in any full MLB season).

    Apart from a discussion of which version of WAR you prefer, there is no projection system which would not peg Felix in 2013 as less than a 5-win player, with 6 WAR probably a fairer projection.

    If you peg dollars per win at somewhere between $5.25M and $5.5M per year (I think it is closer to $5.5M per year this year), assume a 5% increase per year in the dollar value of a win, and an average decline of 0.5 WAR per season, you find that Felix’s contract is pretty damn fair.

    At the rosy end of the projections (assuming a 2013 starting point of 6.0 WAR, with the dollar value of wins at $5.5M), Felix will be “worth” $197.25M over the life of this contract – over $20M more than the Mariners paid. On the other end of the spectrum, if you assume the dollar value of a win is $5.25M and Felix starts at 5.0 WAR instead of 6.0, his value over the life of the contract is $146M.

    A more moderately conservative projection, using $5.25M per win, and Felix’s starting value in 2013 at 5.5 WAR, shows Felix being worth $167M over the life of the contract – pretty close to what the M’s paid. If the value of a win is $5.5M to start – as I think it is – and Felix is a 5.5-win player now, the expected value Felix will produce is *exactly* $175M over the life of the contract.

    Of course, you can’t really assign any particular “expected decline” to any pitcher, because they can get hurt at any time. However, assuming Felix doesn’t have a career-ending injury in the first five years or so, from a baseball perspective this contract should work out just fine. And really, from a business perspective, they had no choice.

  53. Bryce on February 7th, 2013 6:18 pm

    I’ve lived in Seattle for 24 years. I really enjoy the Mariners. I follow them closely. But my favorite team is the Cubs. When Maddux left after the ’92 season because the Cubs were screwing around and decided not to re-sign him, it was an absolutely crushing blow to the fans of the team. To know that your team’s best player, one of the best players in baseball, clearly a guy who was looking like he was on the way to the hall of fame, was allowed to leave, showed everybody that the team wasn’t interested in winning. It showed we were all being played for suckers, and that we shouldn’t really care.

    I understand all of the rational, WAR based $ arguments. They’re all well and good. But if they had traded Felix, or let him walk, it would have been emotionally devastating to the vast majority of people who care about this team. The guy busts his ass. He sets the tone for the organization. He loves playing here as much as the fans love him back. He’s emotional. He’s loyal. He’s the best. Screw the risk. Thank God they’ve kept him.

  54. BPhipps on February 7th, 2013 7:47 pm

    Maybe I have become jaded. I remember when the M’s lost Randy, Arod and Junior. Each departure was like a dagger in my heart. I loved that Mariner team and desperately wanted to keep the gang together. But now, after years of losing, I just want to be the Tampa Rays. A smart franchise that evaluates talent well and doesn’t hesitate to trade a player when it makes good business sense.

  55. Grayfox3d on February 7th, 2013 8:22 pm

    Wow guys, we make a great move by locking up Felix and all the naysayers and negative nancies come give thier opinions.
    I love the move! Felix is our best player.
    Great write up Dave!

  56. Bryce on February 7th, 2013 8:49 pm

    When you say you want to be Tampa, make sure you’re clear about what you mean. You want their brain trust. You don’t really want anything else. It’s a terrible market that has never supported the team and likely never will. If keeping Felix isn’t what Tampa would have done, that’s okay with me.

  57. Pete Livengood on February 8th, 2013 7:54 am

    i/r/t Bryce: I hear you about the emotional attachment to our team’s best players, and feel the same way. I think that’s a BIG reason why the business side of this made this deal imperative for the Mariners – most of their fan base feels the same way.

    All I was suggesting is that, for those who do NOT feel that way, this is not a bad deal or a huge overpay. The M’s are essentially giving a raise over the next two years to a player who is currently underpaid (and will still be *slightly* underpaid even at $25M/yr over those two years, even if you are pessimistic about his projected performance and the dollar value of a win during that time), and then extending him for five more. He’s not only their best player and the face of the franchise, he’s one of the most – if not THE most – consistent, durable and injury-free players they have, and has not yet hit the age that should be (statistically) his peak years. By fWAR, he’s had 6+ WAR seasons in 3 of the last 4 years (averaging 6.0 over the last 4 and 5.6 over the last five), and even models of his projected value that are pessimistic (5.5 WAR next year, $/win = $5.25M when the market is probably showing us it is a little higher than that, an assumed decline that is probably too steep for a player his age), he will earn every penny of this deal.

    I don’t want to diminish the fact that Felix is a pitcher and pitchers can blow up, but unless Felix gets hurt within the first five years or so of this deal (and I would assume the Mariners will hedge against that heavily with insurance), there is a decent chance that Felix will significantly outperform even this HUGE contract.

  58. Pete Livengood on February 8th, 2013 8:10 am

    i/r/t BPhipps: I understand your “jaded” feelings, but remember this about the Rays: it took many, many years of picking in the top five every year to build that vaunted farm system. Granted, the Mariners are pretty far into a stretch that is nearly that bad (and may not have made as much hay with their higher picks), but I would say that is not a rebuilding “mode” I would want to adopt as an owner, at least in a town that has shown they WILL support a winning team.

    I think everybody here would support smarter, more sabermetrically-inclined moves, but I don’t think this market is the kind where you would want to adopt the Tampa or even the Oakland model of re-stocking the farm every few years by trading away promising young stars who are exiting their cost-controlled years. This is a market that WANTS to get to know their team, WANTS them to stay around, and has shown that they will come out to support a familiar team, especially if they win. I believe there are better models to follow that are still sabermetrically friendly (SF, maybe?), and I don’t think this deal falls outside of those kinds of models.

    Basically, I’m answering you by saying that *given where the Mariners are in the career cycle of most of the rest of their core,* this is more than a defensible position from a purely baseball perspective (and an absolute MUST from a business perspective). It is scary and risky only because Felix is a pitcher, but unless you would rule out ANY deal of such size and length to ANY pitcher, this is about as good and safe a deal as you can make for a pitcher of Felix’s caliber.

  59. Pete Livengood on February 8th, 2013 1:42 pm

    I highly recommend Dave’s Fangraph article on the “frictional costs” of continually rebuilding as it applies to this signing:


    Basically, Dave might say that my analysis above is flawed to the extent that it doesn’t consider some kind of market discount to reflect the fact that you are paying a non-free agent (with two years of club control left) market price as if he were a free agent, but that the “frictional costs” of revenue losses experienced by the continually rebuilding clubs also needs to be considered, and may very well exceed whatever that discount might be. He argues that MLB clubs’ recognition of this is perhaps a reason why Felix (and before him Votto, and others) were extended at arguably market prices before they hit free agency.

    Good article, worth reading as part of this discussion.

  60. Bryce on February 8th, 2013 2:08 pm

    Pete – I also read Dave’s article and thought it was interesting. Since some here have mentioned Tampa, I tend to think that they are a somewhat unique outlier in how they can operate. They have very smart people running the team, to be sure. But in the end they can make the sort of decisions they do on a purely rational level because they really don’t have to worry about alienating their fans. They don’t really have any fans, or at least nowhere near as many as most other teams, so who cares about what the fans think?

    In a weird way, it frees their management to make decisions that no other organization would make. At least that’s how I see it.

  61. thedude1987 on February 8th, 2013 3:07 pm

    This was wrote today on the Mariners home page “Mariners reiterate no extension imminent for Felix”


  62. Pete Livengood on February 8th, 2013 3:27 pm

    Bryce – I see the Tampa situation the same way you do, and judging from Dave’s comments in the comments section of the Fangraphs article, I think he does too (he also doesn’t see Washington as analagous, given the recent move from Montreal).

    thedude1987 – It is hard to know what to make of that, because we know the Mariners have been working on an extension with Felix, and the reporters and sources saying the deal is essentially done are usually very reliable. I could see there being some minor differences once the deal is officially announced (maybe front- or back-loaded, incentives, maybe *slightly* different length or AAV), but I think it probably is done and pretty much done as reported. YMMV.

    BTW, I have to correct my attendance figures above. I got lazy – I reported the accurate overall attendance per game (copied from a chart), but then misread the overall attendance figure (1,721,920 and not 1,171,920) and then did my math from the incorrect lower figure. When the math is done correctly, the actual difference is 24,251 with Felix vs 20,403 without; viewed simplistically – perhaps too much so – a 19% attendance bump when Felix pitches. I still think a potential 20% dip in revenue, whether due entirely to Felix’s absence or to some of the “frictional costs” that Dave talks about in his Fangraphs article, is simply something the Mariners could not risk. They could not even risk *the perception* that they might *consider* letting Felix go at this point.

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