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Felix Hernandez removed from Mariners rotation

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There was a time when Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the game. Now he’s just another bullpen arm for the Seattle Mariners.

M’s manager Scott Servais made that official after last night’s game against the Astros. A game in which Hernandez did not pitch but in which he joined the other relievers in the bullpen midway through the game, suggesting the move.

Hernandez has spent his entire career with the Mariners, making 398 appearances. All have come as a starter, but he is in the midst of the worst season of 14-year career. He’s posting a 5.73 ERA this season, his walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has in his career.  He is coming off a start on Tuesday night in which he allowed 11 runs – seven earned – on eight hits in six innings.

Servais praised Hernandez when he made the announcement and acknowledged all he has done for the club, but said it was in the team’s best interests to take King Felix out of the rotation. It’s hard to argue with him. For his part, Hernandez declined to speak to reporters when approached after the game. It’s hard to take issue with that too given how big a deal this sort of thing is to starters, particularly those who were, at one time anyway, elite.

Hernandez’s spot in the rotation will come up on Sunday. The Mariners have yet to announce who will take it.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.