MLB Trade Rumors: Mariners' King Felix Stays Put, Could Brandon League Be Moved?

Phil GardnerContributor IIIJuly 16, 2011

Felix Hernadez loves being on the Mariners
Felix Hernadez loves being on the MarinersChristian Petersen/Getty Images

Even with trading Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers last season, the Seattle Mariners most coveted pitcher has always been Felix Hernandez. However, even with the pitching depth for the Mariners, don’t expect to see him wearing a different uniform any time soon.

Hernandez is under contract through 2014 and is owed roughly $63 million. Even despite the fact his salary jumps from $10 million this year to $18.5 million next year, the Mariners have shown no interest in moving him. As M’s general manager Jack Zduriencik put it to Jon Heyman before the season, “We’ve got him. We’ll keep him. We’re not going to move him.” Approaching the trade deadline, that doesn’t appear to have changed.

On the part of Hernandez, he seems just fine staying where he is, as he told Manuel Lira at the Venezuelan paper Líder en Deportes. “Hopefully Seattle locks me up further,” Hernandez said. “I want to sign for more. At least five years more.” Hernandez also holds a limited no-trade clause and could block potential deals to 10 large market teams.

That doesn’t mean the Mariners are still without other pitching pieces to move. It may be Felix Hernandez anchoring the rotation, but outstanding performances by Doug Fister, Jason Vargas, Michael Pineda and even Erik Bedard have kept the Mariners close to contention in the AL West.

Of those, Erik Bedard stands as the lone starter who is over 30. The 32-year-old has always been a very good starter in the majors but has continually battled injury problems. This year is no different. Despite an ERA of 3.00 in 90 innings, and posting a WHIP of 1.111 and 8.5 K/9, he’s currently hampered by a knee injury.

Bedard is definitely the most movable piece for the Mariners, who are currently in a youth movement, but teams may be scared off by his history of injuries. Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times speculates it could be the July 22-24 series against the Red Sox when Bedard makes his next start. That would mean a maximum of two starts before the July 31 trade deadline, although a post-deadline trade is still possible.

The Mariners have also been fielding calls on other players. Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweeted they have been receiving interest on Brandon League and reaffirmed their lack of interest in making King Felix available. In another tweet, he mentioned interest in Jamey Wright and Adam Kennedy.

Buster Olney speculated on Twitter that the Mariners might match up well with the Royals for a trade partner. The Mariners are lacking a bat and are deep in pitching, whereas the Royals are short on pitching but have some bats to offer.