The Mariners’ concerns over Felix Hernandez’s right elbow were not enough to sway the club from making Hernandez the highest-paid pitcher in major league history Tuesday. Hernandez and the club made official the news that broke last week: He has signed a seven-year, $175 million deal that replaces the two years and $40.5 million remaining on his current deal.
The new deal, which will be followed by a press conference Wednesday at Safeco Field, reportedly includes language that will protect the Mariners in the event Hernandez can’t pitch because of elbow problems.
Hernandez took his physical exam in Peoria, AZ., early Tuesday along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers and then flew to Seattle for Wednesday’s signing and press conference.
Hernandez’s contract exceeds that of C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees, who has the largest overall deal for a pitcher at seven years and $161 million. Until the Mariners officially ink Hernandez, Zach Greinke of the Dodgers has the highest annual average salary of $24.5 million.
“I would send along my congratulations to [Hernandez’s agents] Scott Pucino and Wil Polidor,” Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told mariners.com. “They were very professional in working this agreement with us. I think it’s a great thing for the Seattle Mariners and it’s a great thing for Felix Hernandez. We’re looking forward to this guy being here for a long time, obviously.”
Hernandez, 27 in April, has been with the Mariners his entire major league career. He won the American League Cy Young Award in 2010. He pitched a perfect game Aug. 15 against Tampa Bay while going 13-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 33 starts.
A three-time All-Star, Hernandez has pitched 200 or more innings in each of the past five seasons and has a career record of 98-76 with a 3.22 ERA.
The Mariners Tuesday also signed RHP Jon Garland to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. Garland, 33, is a veteran of 12 major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox (2000-07), Los Angeles Angels (2008), Arizona Diamondbacks (2009), the Los Angeles Dodgers (2009-11) and San Diego Padres (2010). Garland, who did not pitch in 2012 recovering from a right shoulder injury, is 132-119 with a 4.32 ERA in 353 games, including 330 starts.