Felix Hernandez’s record-setting contract with the Seattle Mariners includes a rare clause to protect the team against the possibility of an elbow injury.
Hernandez received a seven-year deal worth $175 million. But the deal will include a club option for an eighth season worth an additional $1 million if a very specific circumstance is met.
According to a copy of the agreement obtained by FOXSports.com, the clause will activate if Hernandez, who turns 27 in April, is on the disabled list for more than 130 days because of any right elbow procedure. The 130 days must be consecutive, either within one season or from one season overlapping into the next.
The Mariners became concerned about Hernandez’s right elbow after an MRI exam last week, sources say, but were reassured by a subsequent evaluation that there is no imminent injury risk associated with the elbow. Still, the clause will act as an insurance policy within the contract, offering a one-year payback on Hernandez’s services in 2020 should he (for example) miss one of the next seven seasons because of Tommy John surgery. (Hernandez will turn 34 early in the 2020 season.)
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik declined to comment to FOXSports.com Wednesday on any specifics relating to Hernandez’s contract.
The clause is similar to one written into John Lackey’s deal with the Boston Red Sox. Lackey signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox before the 2010 season. Because Lackey missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox have a team option on him for 2015 at the major-league minimum salary.
Hernandez receives a $6 million signing bonus, along with annual salaries of $19 million, $22 million, $24 million, $25 million, $26 million, $26 million and $27 million, respectively.
Hernandez’s contract includes a full no-trade clause, effective immediately. The deal has a fairly standard package of awards incentives: $200,000 for the Cy Young Award, $100,000 for the World Series MVP, $50,000 for the LCS MVP, and $50,000 for every Gold Glove and All-Star appearance.