Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Thursday that the Mariners had reached agreement on a seven-year, $175 million contract extension with staff ace Felix Hernandez. But something apparently went wrong during the righty’s pre-signing physical.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there is some concern about the status of Hernandez’s pitching elbow which “could affect contract talks.”
That’s all the information we have for now, but you can bet that more details will trickle out soon.
Hernandez, 26, posted a superb 3.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 223/56 K/BB ratio in 232 innings last season.
He is currently under contract for $19.5 million in 2013 and $20 million in 2014.
UPDATE, 3:20 PM: Olney provides a little more insight in his story filed to ESPN.com:
The elbow issue is perceived by at least one of the parties in the deal as being a possible impediment to the completion of the new contract.
“It’s an issue,” said one source.
UPDATE, 3:37 PM: Nightengale hears that both sides are “still hoping to complete” the seven-year, $175 million contract extension. Perhaps the Mariners will try to add some injury clauses.
UPDATE, 4:18 PM: Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik gave a “no comment” to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times about the situation but noted that Felix will report to camp on schedule this week.
UPDATE, 4:39 PM: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says it could take a week, month or more to work through “various issues” in the language of the extension.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.