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February 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

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Mariners: Why King-sized contract makes sense

Bary Roy graduated from Central Washington University in 2012 after majoring in broadcasting. He co-hosted several sports radio shows at CWU and writes a blog, The Bary Roy Report.

One of the most prolific pitchers in Mariners history might be showing signs of wear and tear on his pitching elbow. Felix Hernandez, shockingly, is human after all. After throwing more than 1,600 innings, his right elbow isn’t the same as it was when he was drafted.

But wear and tear on an elbow is normal. Mine still hurts from playing softball and isn’t the same as when I was an 18-year old outfielder coming off the bench.

So does the initial concern about Hernandez's elbow make me wonder if giving him a seven-year deal is smart? No. This contract, even without safeguards in place, is a smart baseball move because it locks up the face of a downtrodden franchise desperately hoping to contend again.

Quite simply, signing a long-term deal makes a commitment to a vision for the future. With the farm system peaking, Seattle isn’t that far off. With the Angels and Rangers rosters aging, Seattle could make a move in the American League West while still having The King as its centerpiece. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has been building toward this moment since he took over because Hernandez is a workhorse pitcher with a champion’s pedigree.

Skeptical about a seven-year deal for a pitcher? Go ahead, mutter Brandon Webb’s name. Talk to me about Dwight Gooden and how he burned out quickly. That doesn't sway me. I'll point to Roger Clemons and Curt Schilling as staff aces and workhorses who helped lead their teams to World Series championships. Sure, each of them suffered injuries, but injuries are part of baseball and teams need to prepare for them.

The only thing that shocks me about this signing is that the Mariners are guaranteeing all seven years of his contract and have also included a full no-trade clause. While I cringe at the thought of this possibly derailing the franchise, it’s a worthwhile deal.

And adding an option for an eighth season if Hernandez misses significant time because of elbow surgery does give the team some insurance.

In fact, maybe Hernandez isn't the only Mariner who deserves a fat, new contract heading into 2013. Maybe this move shows that Zduriencik should get one, too.

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