No matter how many times the Mariners make it incredibly clear that they aren’t going to trade their 25-year-old Cy Young winner who’s signed through 2014 the speculation about Felix Hernandez deals doesn’t seem to stop, but perhaps this at least will cause it to die down for a while.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com has learned eight of the 10 teams on Hernandez’s no-trade list: Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies.
Many people assume that players would include teams like the Pirates or Royals on their no-trade lists, but in reality those types of teams are almost never going to actually trade for a superstar player with a big contract anyway. Hernandez including the Pirates on his no-trade list would just be wasting one of the 10 spots, so instead of listing where he’d most like to avoid going he’s instead listing most of the highest-payroll teams.
In fact, of the eight teams Morosi knows about only the Rangers didn’t have one of the 12 highest payrolls in 2010. Hernandez is blocking a trade to the teams he believes are most likely to actually try to swing a deal for him, not the teams he most wants to avoid playing for (although certainly there might be some overlap).
Now can we maybe wait a couple months before there’s another batch of “Will the Mariners trade Felix Hernandez?” columns?
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.