A decent argument can, and has been made (almost weekly) for trading Felix Hernandez. I think we’ve all heard the basic elements of the discussion, but let’s review.
Felix is the most valuable chip the M’s have, and the likelihood of competing for a World Series before his contract expires after 2014 looks bleak (thanks to Tex and LAA). The national assumption is Felix will land in a big market the next time he hits free agency, because one can only handle so much rain, lack of offense, and of course, losing. And oh by the way, the Mariners offense is not so hot if you’ve tuned in this past decade, and there aren’t many top tier bats in the pipeline to change this. Speaking of top tier prospects, the M’s do have them, but they are pitchers. This side says trade your best asset to acquire offense (Pineda for Montero part 2), rather than stay this depressing course.
Do Not Trade Felix:
The argument I hear for not trading Felix mainly comes, naturally, from Mariner fans. This side says to be successful, you need an ace, which Felix is, and trading him for 1-2 MLB ready players plus a handful of prospects is not equal value. Furthermore, re-signing Felix may not be impossible based on his steadfast comments about the city and organization, and his desire to be a Mariner. Check out his comments from just two days ago:
“I’ve got two more years to go on my contract,” said Hernandez. “It’s not my decision. But I would love to stay. I love Seattle. I love the organization, and the city. I would be disappointed [to be traded],” Hernandez added. “I don’t think they will do that. I love them. And I think they like me, too.”
Lastly, what’s the rush to trade him now? Whether Seattle can contend before 2015 remains to be seen, but if two years from now the team is still struggling, and a trade must be made, Felix will still demand a nice package in return.
If you just consider the main points of each side, from 30,000 feet trading Felix looks logical, and inevitable. The trade Felix side has a compelling case. But let’s land this plane in Seattle, and dissect the lesser discussed, but most important reason the M’s should not trade Felix Hernandez: The Mariners needs an ace, yes, but more importantly, they need a face.
As a long suffering Seattle sports fan, I (and the other Good Guys) have insight and a pulse of the sports community that national writers and transplant Seattleites just don’t have. This town has seen too much losing, both in the record column, and in seeing it’s homegrown stars depart at the peak of their career. This list is long, headlined by the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Durant, Rashard Lewis, Joey Galloway, and Steve Hutchinson. These are the superstars that began their pro career in Seattle, then for various reasons left in their prime, leaving fans wondering what if? The other list is short, most notably Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, and old timers Steve Largent and Fred Brown. Adding Felix to this list would mean so much more than a couple prospects that may or may not become MLB players.
Losing Felix via trade or free agency would not only hurt on the baseball diamond, but the morale blow and symbolic loss would be felt for years. To this day I wonder what Kemp and Payton could have been had they stayed in Seattle another 5 years. Or those mid-90’s Mariners that had the best core in baseball, could Jr., A-Rod and Randy have brought Seattle a World Series? I tend to think yes. The Mariners especially can ill afford to lose a superstar, given its history of doing so, and also its current public relations state. Felix has made clear time and time again his desire to be a Mariner, and he backed his words by signing a 5 year extension. The Mariners owe the fans to put up a fight to keep Felix in Seattle past 2014, rather than trading him. He is too unique, too special, too important to this city, both in the short and long term. He is the king, our ace, our face.