Roy Halladay remains a popular name in the rumor mill, but Felix Hernandez makes more sense as a trade target for the Red Sox.
Halladay is 32.
Hernandez is 23.
Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 208 strikeouts in 239 innings last season.
Hernandez went 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 217 strikeouts in 238 2/3 innings.
Halladay throws hard.
Hernandez throws harder.
Halladay will make $15.75 million in 2010 and then becomes a free agent.
Hernandez made $3.8 million in 2009 and is under Mariners control through 2011 — meaning the '10 and '11 seasons will be arbitration years unless the two sides reach an agreement on one-year deals or a long-term contract.
Halladay was arguably the best pitcher of the past decade.
Hernandez could be the best pitcher of the next decade.
It won?t be easy to acquire King Felix from the Mariners. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik already has said the hard-throwing right-hander is not available.
But this shouldn?t stop the Red Sox from pursuing Hernandez and revisiting talks that were started at the trade deadline in late July. According to The Seattle Times, Boston gave Seattle a list of eight prospects and said the Mariners could choose five.
These were the eight:
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Daniel Bard
RHP Justin Masterson
LHP Nick Hagadone
RHP Michael Bowden
LHP Felix Doubront
OF Josh Reddick
SS Yamaico Navarro
After the Mariners rejected that offer, the Red Sox attempted to orchestrate a three-way deal that included Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez going to the Mariners. When that fell through, Boston dealt Masterson and Hagadone to Cleveland for Victor Martinez.
Theo Epstein and company still can change Zduriencik?s mind. Make him an offer he can?t refuse this winter. Add a few more marquee names to the list.
Compared to the Mariners, the Red Sox have an embarrassment of riches — and certainly enough talent to get a deal done. They just have to be willing to part with more than prospects. Buchholz and Bard have great potential, but there is still an unknown quantity to them. The same goes with everyone else on Boston?s original list.
To pull off a blockbuster of this magnitude would require giving up an All-Star, a proven major leaguer and a handful of prospects. Nobody said it'd be cheap, but the Red Sox can afford to dip into their talent pool and let go of some studs without depleting the farm system or gutting the 40-man roster.
Hernandez is worth it.
He hasn?t reached his prime and still has five big league seasons under his belt. In those five years, he has 58 career wins in 138 starts and is coming off a breakthrough campaign in which he led the American League in wins, winning percentage and hits per nine innings (7.5), and ranked second in ERA, third in WHIP and fourth in strikeouts.
He could take home his first Cy Young for that performance, but even if he doesn?t, taking home hardware and putting awards on his mantle is only a matter of time. Hernandez is only going to get better.
The Mariners know they have a special player — the kind of player who can be a 20-game winner, a Cy Young winner and a difference-maker in October for years. Pitchers like Felix Hernandez come along once in a generation. Seattle is not going to part with him for peanuts.
Now is when the Red Sox need to find a way to make the deal of the century, and they can?t take no for an answer. No player is priceless. Boston has to determine what Seattle's demands for Hernandez will be, swallow hard and meet them.
Adrian Gonzalez would be a great addition to the Red Sox' lineup, but if it comes down to him or Felix Hernandez, remember the ultimate truism in baseball: Pitching wins championships.
Bring Hernandez to Boston, and World Series titles will follow.