In Friday’s Roundup, regular rumor rounder-upper Daniel Rathman noted the Mariners’ recent Felix Hernandez extension might impact negotiations for Clayton Kershaw, with a trickle-down effect on other starting pitchers looking for a new contract. Well, Kershaw may want to slowly back his way out of the war room, because it appears that Hernandez’s megadeal—which would have made him the richest pitcher ever and set a high bar for Kershaw’s inevitable extension—appears to be as tenuous as the right elbow that’s currently holding it up.
Hernandez deal in jeopardy? Buster Olney had the story Sunday evening, with one source saying a possible elbow problem is “an issue” that might prevent the deal from being signed. No matter where you look on this story, the language is vague, and it almost sounds like there isn’t a medical condition at all but rather the promise that fatigue may cause one down the line. Hernandez apparently took a physical with the Mariners on Thursday (per Jon Morosi), and if it had revealed an immediate medical concern, you’d think we’d have heard about it and the deal would be either all the way on or all the way off. Instead we’ve got a lot of hemming and hawing as the media try to figure out just what’s going on, and both Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and Hernandez’s camp have been tight-lipped about the proceedings.
Here’s what we know: 1) as Olney notes in his story, only three pitchers—Bert Blyleven, Fernando Valenzuela, and Dwight Gooden—have thrown more innings before turning 27 than King Felix; 2) Hernandez rather conspicuously pulled out of the World Baseball Classic on Friday; and 3) per Ken Rosenthal, Zduriencik says Hernandez will “take part Tuesday with the entire squad as normal.” The Mariners’ pitchers and catchers are officially due to report Wednesday.
Basically, we know nothing. So let’s dig a little deeper: Here, according to PITCHf/x, are the average velocities of Hernandez’s four-seam fastballs since 2007, sorted by year:
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