The Seattle Mariners have agreed in principle to a five-year extension with their ace Felix Hernandez which will keep the Venezuelan right-hander in the Emerald City through his prime years. However, there is still a ways to go before that deal is finalized, and with negotiations ongoing, Hernandez has decided to pull out of the World Baseball Classic.
Hernandez had been named the ace for the Venezuela team and was penciled in to throw in the first game against the Domincan Republic. Venezuela finds itself in Group C in the third-edition of the WBC along with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Spain with the first game of the tournament set to take place March 7 in San Juan.
Luis Sojo, the manager of Team Venezuela, conveyed understanding as King Felix called him to explain why he wouldn’t be able to participate this year, according to Hernandez’s agent. Hernandez had been looking forward to participating in this year’s WBC and leading the Venezuela rotation.
As of now, Hernandez’s agent says that the negotiations are about 70 percent completed. While he wouldn’t confirm the length of the extension or the money involved, it’s been widely reported that Hernandez will tack on five years and $135.5 million to his current deal which runs through the 2014 season.
With less than a month before pool play begins, Sojo is left scrambling to replace his best arm at the front of his rotation. Other starters on Venezuela’s roster include Henderson Alvarez of the Miami Marlins, Anibal Sanchez of the Detroit Tigers and free agent Carlos Zambrano. Sanchez appears like the best option of the three as only one to post a sub-4.00 ERA last season.
So while Hernandez looks to lock up his future with the Mariners, Team Venezuela will have to scramble to find a workhorse ace if they hope to make their way through pool play at the upcoming WBC.