SEATTLE - An emotional Felix Hernandez on Wednesday signed a seven-year contract with the Seattle Mariners that makes him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Hernandez officially signed his new deal that will be worth $175 million. The contract covers the final two years of his current deal that was scheduled to run through the 2014 season and adds five additional years through the 2019 season.
"To the people in Seattle, to all the people in Seattle that trust me, that believe in me I will not disappoint anybody," Hernandez said, his voice cracking.
Hernandez was greeted by Mariners front-office staff all wearing yellow "Kings Court" T-shirts that have become a special section of the stadium for all of his starts. The 26-year-old ace immediately got choked up and repeatedly said he didn't want to let down the only organization he's ever played for.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said Hernandez got a "clear bill of health" from Mariners physicians before finalizing the deal.
"When you invest you ask yourself, `What are you investing in?"' Zduriencik said. "This is our guy, we know him better than anybody. When you have that right in front of you, those are the types of marriages you want to have."
Hernandez's total dollars would top CC Sabathia's original $161 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees. The $25 million-a-year average would surpass Zack Greinke's $24.5 million under his new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and tie him for the second-highest contract overall in baseball with Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard behind Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million). Hernandez's new money would average $26.9 million over five years.
It's long been debated whether the Mariners would be better off trading Hernandez at his peak and getting a bounty in return from other teams. Both Zduriencik and Hernandez have stayed steadfast that the intent was on keeping the ace in Seattle.
"I think this officially quiets the whispers," Zduriencik said.