August 2, 2012
The Mariners' Missed Opportunity
A true no. 1 starter is the rarest commodity in baseball, and the Seattle Mariners have had one in Felix Hernandez for the better part of a decade. Unfortunately, much of Hernandez’s value has been wasted on uncompetitive clubs: only twice since he reached the big leagues in 2005 have the Mariners finished above .500.
The subject of dealing their homegrown superstar is a sensitive one for Mariners fans, but an objective look at the facts suggests that the future of the organization would be much brighter if general manager Jack Zduriencik had moved Hernandez to a contender for a package of young impact bats that are close to big-league ready prior to this summer's non-waiver trade deadline.
Why Hernandez is so valuable
The final key to Hernandez’s value is the team-friendliness of his contract. He’s signed through 2014 at an annual average of $19.75 million, which is a bargain compared to the deals signed by Matt Cain (average of $21.25 million per season through 2017) and Cole Hamels ($24 million/year through 2018) earlier this year.
Why he should have been traded
Coming into the year, it appeared that the next competitive Mariners team would have an infield anchored by Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seager. Seager is the only one of the three who hasn't fallen well short of expectations this year, and he also possesses the fewest physical tools. Smoak, the centerpiece of the 2010 trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas, was recently demoted to Triple-A after hitting .217/.292/.368 as a Mariner, and Ackley has followed up a strong 2011 debut with a .249 TAv sophomore effort.