A King’s Ransom for King Felix?

Dec 15, 2010, 2:09 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:52 pm

Felix Hernandez

By Michael Simeona, MyNorthwest.com intern

As the Yankees continue to mourn their failure of an offseason after being spurned by lefty phenom Cliff Lee, might the Evil Empire make a blockbuster move for King Felix?

During an offseason in which the Boston Red Sox reloaded their roster with the acquisitions of four-time All-Star OF Carl Crawford and three-time All-Star 1B Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees are a step behind their arch enemies in the race to acquire baseball’s best. No team in baseball has the weight of expectation to reach the World Series every season like the Yankees do, and being outplayed by Boston won’t sit well with general manager Brian Cashman.

There is no better time for the Mariners to listen to offers for Felix Hernandez (above) than now according to Mike Salk, considering the 24-year old Venezuelan is just entering his prime after winning his first Cy Young award in 2010.

“Felix is potentially the most valuable player in all of baseball,” Salk said. “He has that kind of value right now because of his youth, because of his ability, and everything else. The Yankees are desperate – maybe for no reason, but they are desperate for a pitcher.”

A move for Hernandez would team him with CC Sabathia, arguably giving the Yankees two of the best pitchers in baseball and a pitching staff more daunting than that of the Red Sox. But to acquire Hernandez, one of the best young talents in the game and face of the Mariners franchise, it will take a ransom of prospects – and potentially cornerstone players such as Robinson Cano (left) or Phil Hughes.

Robinson Cano“If it’s (Robinson) Cano and its Jesus Montero, a top five prospect, and it’s everything else that he can get you. Maybe it’s Brett Gardner, and maybe you get some salary relief from Milton Bradley and you just keep adding things up, eventually there’s got to be a point at which you think about saying yes,” Salk said of a hypothetical trade involving Hernandez.

“Well in that case, CC Sabathia would have to be a part of the package,” countered Mariners’ reporter Shannon Drayer on the Kevin Calabro show. “The biggest thing is regardless of the players that you get back, look what you’re giving up. That is so irreplaceable. You might build a nice team for the regular season, then what happens in games one and four and seven when you make the playoffs?”

While the Mariners didn’t make any huge moves during last week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, GM Jack Zduriencik (below) has been known to make a splash before. Last year he brought Cliff Lee to Seattle – albeit for half a season – in an unexpected move that shocked the baseball world. Although they reportedly didn’t make any inquisition into Justin Upton, a 23-year old up-and-coming outfielder for the Diamondbacks, it’s a clear statement toward their philosophy of rebuilding with youth, according to Drayer.

ZduriencikJackMug“I think Jack (Zduriencik) displayed at these Winter Meetings that he has a lot of faith in the young talent that is coming up to the extent where he wasn’t willing to part with two pieces of a (combination of) Michael Pineda, a Justin Smoak, a Dustin Ackley, a Nick Franklin – to get a Justin Upton,” said Drayer. “So if you believe in those guys so much, then why wouldn’t you want those guys around Felix Hernandez two years from now?”

Felix’s 2010 season will go down as one of the more remarkable performances in baseball history considering he received the Cy Young with the least amount of wins (13) in the history of the award. While the Mariners suffered through a disappointing season amid high expectations, the main goal for the organization is to win championships, not collect hardware for outstanding individual performances, Salk said.

“You got to sometimes get out of the mentality of the love for every individual player if you want that goal (of winning the World Series) – which Seattle hasn’t seen in 30 years – to see a winner,” Salk said.

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