SEATTLE: Catcher Miguel Olivo #30 (R) of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 after the Mariners defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-3 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. Olivo was a single away from hitting for the cycle. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Felix Hernandez always seems to get brought up in trade talk. If you ask Felix Hernandez, he never wants to go anywhere, never ever.
If you Google Felix Hernandez trade rumors, you get 64,000 results. Your mileage might vary, but I've got safe search off because I like to keep life spicy. Click on any one of those results and you'll probably end up somewhere that says the same thing as all of the other results: Felix is an appealing piece, but Felix isn't getting traded.
It makes sense why Felix gets brought up all the damn time. For one thing, he is very good. For another thing, he pitches for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2001. And for a third thing, he's presently under contract through 2014. Are the Mariners really going to be able to contend with the Rangers and Angels by 2014? Shouldn't they sell Felix now for prospects, while his value is at its highest?
Still, nothing. Felix has never been traded, and he's never come close to being traded, at least as far as any of us know. The Mariners have always shot those rumors down. Felix and Ichiro are two Mariners who have long just been off the table. One reason Felix has been off the table is because he's really good, and the Mariners need really good players. Another reason he's been off the table is because he supposedly really, really loves Seattle.
It doesn't make a lot of sense on the surface. Felix is a great pitcher on what's been a bad team, and you'd think he might be growing dissatisfied. But trust me when I say he's always spoken of Seattle very highly -- he did sign a five-year contract in January 2010 -- and Tuesday afternoon, we got this:
Felix Hernandez just told me his plan is to spend his entire career with the Mariners— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) March 6, 2012
That came on the heels of this clip:
Fast-forward to 0:49. A brief and incomplete transcript:
Reynolds: I've been talking all winter, "They gotta trade Felix, he's gonna bring back ten players."
Hernandez: no no no
Hernandez: They only need one player, I'm here.
Reynolds: You love it here, huh?
Hernandez: Yeah man. I live in Seattle.
Felix's family is in Seattle. He's involved in the community in Seattle. He's the face of the team. He's the guy. There are reasons why Felix could feel displeased with his situation, but he always has conveyed the impression that he is happy and comfortable. That's on the record.
You know why 2014 is an artificial deadline? Because Felix isn't guaranteed to leave. As a matter of fact, assuming Felix remains effective, I would expect him to re-sign. He loves the team and the city, and the team and the city sure as hell love him back.
Of course I'm not writing this free of bias. I'm the network's Mariners guy, and Felix is kind of my favorite. Felix is not the first superstar to repeatedly say wonderful things about his employer and community, and some of those superstars have left anyway. One need look no further than Albert Pujols, who basically ran St. Louis before bolting for California. Words aren't actions, and minds change.
But considering what he's been through, Felix Hernandez seems oddly, unusually content. He probably shouldn't love Seattle as much as he says that he does. Things being what they are, though, there's a chance Felix ends up a one-franchise man. Even if the Mariners keep losing and the trade rumors keep coming.