Right-hander Felix Hernandez has finalized a monster contract with the Seattle Mariners. The two sides have worked out the final language in the deal, which was announced by Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik on Tuesday.
The deal likely will include protective language to guard against the possibility of Hernandez suffering a specific elbow injury during the course of his deal, one source indicated.
Hernandez last week agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract with the M’s, according to major league sources. ESPN.com reported Sunday that an issue with Hernandez’s elbow is a concern for the club.
According to a source, Hernandez took a physical on Thursday. It is not clear whether the examination revealed simple wear-and-tear in Hernandez’s elbow, or a larger problem.
Hernandez has thrown 1,620 1/3 innings in his career, the fourth-highest total since 1969 for a pitcher before his 27th birthday, behind Bert Blyleven, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden, according to STATS LLC.
Hernandez recently bowed out of pitching for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but Zduriencik told MLB.com that the pitcher has been throwing normally for the last month at Safeco Field.
The inclusion of protective language in major contracts has become increasingly common as clubs seek to minimize the risk of players getting injured.
The Boston Red Sox negotiated such language into right-hander John Lackey’s five-year, $82.5 million free-agent deal in December 2009. The agreement included a conditional club option for 2015 if Lackey missed significant time for a pre-existing elbow injury. Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2011 and missed the entire 2012 season.
The New York Yankees negotiated similar language for a vesting option in left-hander CC Sabathia’s most recent deal. The $25 million option for 2017 becomes guaranteed if Sabathia does not end ’16 on the disabled list with a left-shoulder injury, does not spend more than 45 days in ’16 on the DL with a left-shoulder injury or does not make more than six relief appearances in ’16 because of a left-shoulder injury.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli and Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano also had protective language inserted into their free-agent contracts this offseason, and the Chicago Cubs backed out of a trade for right-hander Dan Haren because of physical concerns.