By Shannon Drayer
Jack Zduriencik joined us on the Hot Stove League Show Tuesday night and while he didn’t want to give away any of the details about the Felix Hernandez extension or negotiations before Wednesday’s press conference he didn’t hold back when talking about the importance of keeping Hernandez with the organization.
“He’s our own. He’s ours. More than anything else, if I’m in this organization or I’m a fan, we kept our own.”
For a general manager who has been focused on growing his own talent this sets a precedent. He might not have brought Felix into the organization but there was little chance he would be the one who would let him go. There were offers, opportunities to acquire more pieces for Felix throughout Zduriencik’s tenure. None of them were tempting.
“It was never a motivating factor,” Zduriencik said of trade possibilities. “You have an elite player at the top of his game and every single fifth day when this guy goes to the mound? You need to build around that. You don’t need to subtract and cross your fingers.”
Zduriencik called the negotiations an “interesting experience.” The biggest thing both parties had going for them was that ultimately they both wanted the same thing.
“Felix has always said he wants to stay here and I have always said I wanted to keep him,” Zduriencik said. “The organization certainly wanted Felix here as well and I think those two driving forces allowed us to get to the point of where we are at.”
“That’s a tribute to an awful lot of people and this ownership group. Quite frankly Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln deserve a ton of credit. They have been enormously supportive. Enormously supportive.”
Zduriencik sees Hernandez as the key building block. The cornerstone. The young players who took the field last year are a big part of the core. There is more coming however with players like Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Brandon Maurer, and Stefen Romero on the near horizon.
“You cannot build an organization unless you have good minor league players, it just gives you so much leverage,” Zduriencik said. “Our 40-man roster, we are making some very difficult decisions right now, and they’re tough and we are going to have to make some more based on some of the guys who are coming in that we have that are non-roster invitees who going to challenge for roles on this club. The organization is healthy and I think we are all very proud of where we are at right now. We need to win more at the big league level and we are going to.”
More from Jack Zduriencik can be heard above. Hour two of the Hot Stove League Show which featured an interview with the always fun Brendan Ryan (who explains why he had Felix hold onto the engagement ring for him before he proposed to his girlfriend last spring in Japan) can be found here.