Felix Hernandez and the Mariners were going to have to get something done contract-wise this winter, or else the team would be in a rather precarious spot going into 2013. Well, a report today from Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the two sides have reached preliminary agreement on a seven-year, $175-million contract that will replace the pitcher’s old deal.

Hernandez will earn an average of $25 million per season.

The deal is not yet finalized, so nobody is commenting for the record and I have not been able to get confirmation of it on my end. Then again, the fact the usual suspects aren’t commenting is usually a good sign something big is about to happen.

Here’s another indicator. When I spoke to GM Jack Zduriencik yesterday, he told me he’d expected to already be in Arizona but had been detained a few extra days in Seattle on business and was hoping to be here by the weekend. Could Zduriencik be expecting to participate in a Friday press conference in Seattle?

Stay tuned.

Hernandez still had two years left on his initial five-year extension from 2009, so this is more or less another five-year extension with more money attached.

If you’re the Mariners, it’s a deal that had to be done. Players usually don’t like to negotiate these deals in-season and Hernandez’s trade value was potentially going to start to decline after July 31 — when anyone dealing for him would still have him for two playoff runs at a minimum. So, if you’re the Mariners, you wanted a deal done this winter.
We’d seen previous reports of the Mariners wanting a four-year extension and Henrnandez wanting six.

Looks like both sides decided to meet in the middle.

Now, all that remains is for the Mariners to put a better team around Hernandez.

While the Mariners will undoubtedly tout this as a coup of sorts, they did the same thing back in the winter of 2009-2010 and all they have to show for it issome stellar pitching by Hernnadez and three consecutive last-place finishes. Right now, the rotation has Hisashi Iwakuma as the No. 2 starter and a bunch of question marks after that.