With pitchers and catchers due to report early next week (YAY!!!), we have some news centered around two young hurlers. First, former Cy Young award winner, Felix Hernandez, is on the verge of an extension with the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, former M’s pitcher and current New York Yankee, Michael Pineda is making solid progress as he works himself back from a year-long injury dating back to last March.
According to Tim Booth of the Associated Press, Hernandez and the Mariners are on the brink of agreeing to a seven-year. $175 million contract. The report added that the young righty would receive $134.5 million of guaranteed money over the five years added to the contract. In essence, his average annual value (AAV) would then increase from around $15.6 million to $25 million, which beats CC Sabathia‘s current AAV ($23 million) for the highest paid pitcher in baseball.
This just about wraps up the 26-year-old’s upcoming prime years and dispels any notion of the Yankees swooping in and signing him. King Felix was set to become a free agent after the 2014 season after which the self-imposed budget could presumably be lifted and the spending could’ve started again. His career 3.22 ERA (3.29 xFIP) and penchant for inducing groundballs (55% career GB%) would have played great in Yankee Stadium. He’s an ace who has played on some pretty bad teams, but has made the most of it by becoming the face of the franchise.
Meanwhile, his former teammate, Michael Pineda — who was traded to the Yankees last year — is slowly, but surely making progress after suffering a season-ending injury to his shoulder in Spring Training last season. According to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger in a recent interview with Yankees pitching coach, Larry Rothschild said that Pineda might graduate to his first full throwing session off the mound next week. Rothschild reinforced the positives, but cautioned that there’s still some major hurdles for the young fireballer to climb.
So far, he’s had no setbacks, which is always positive. But there’s a long way to go with it, too.
Getting a healthy and productive Pineda back will definitely help bolster the Yankees pitching staff. The starting rotation is getting up there in age, three of which are on the wrong side of 30, including their ace, Sabathia. Yankees GM Brian Cashman told the media earlier this offseason that the team doesn’t expect any meaningful production from Pineda this season, which really serves as taking the pressure off him. No need to rush him back, he’s young, let the healing doing its thing and let’s get him back on the mound for the Yanks for many (healthy) years to come.