A former Cy Young winner. A pitcher who's thrown a perfect game. Felix Hernandez used to be an imposing force on the mound with a devastating change-up. Now? He's become a shell of himself, being on the wrong side of 30 and prone to the occasional inning meltdown wrought with home runs, hits, and walks. At this time, the Seattle Mariners can't afford any more of his pitching outbursts.
The Mariners are in a prime spot, holding the second wild-card spot by 3.5 games over division rival, the Los Angeles Angels. Thanks to a light-out closer in Edwin Diaz and players like Mitch Haniger and James Paxton stepping up, the Mariners are in a playoff spot at the moment. This is in spite of losing Robinson Cano to a PED suspension and numerous contributors being out with injuries. This is also in spite of Hernandez's terrible pitching; his WAR of -0.3 along with his WHIP of 1.39, his ERA of 5.58, and a K/9 of 7.48 aren't helping much. With the Red Sox cutting ties with Hanley Ramirez, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the Mariners take the same route.
If there's one thing general manager Jerry Dipoto loves to do, it's making a trade. He just traded two minor league players to the Tampa Bay Rays for closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span. Unfortunately for Dipoto, Hernandez has a full no-trade clause on his contract, so Dipoto won't be able to work his magic by just trading Hernandez straight up. The good news is that the Red Sox aren't going to pay Ramirez $22 million next year by designating him for assignment, so the Mariners can actually save $27 million for next season by designating "King Felix".
So who would replace Hernandez on the Mariners' roster? Dipoto has built up pitching depth with the likes of Ariel Miranda, who has shown the ability to be a back-end rotation option for Seattle, and Erasmo Ramirez, who was originally fighting for a rotation spot at the beginning of the season. There's also players like Hisashi Iwakuma, who's proven to be a steady pitcher for Seattle in the past. In any case, if the Mariners are to make the postseason for the first time since 2001, they have to fix their Felix Hernandez problem and they have to fix it soon.
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