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Deal should make "King Felix" richest pitcher

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of their MLB American League baseball
Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of their MLB American League baseball

(Reuters) - Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners have agreed on a new deal for the Venezuelan All-Star that is expected to make 'King Felix' Major League Baseball's highest paid pitcher ever.

General manager Jack Zduriencik told reporters at the Mariners' spring training camp in Arizona on Tuesday that Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young winner, would hold a news conference in Seattle on Wednesday and that contract details would be revealed then.

Hernandez, 26, has two years and $40.5 million remaining on his current contract, but it was believed that the old deal would be replaced by a new agreement worth a reported $175 million over seven years, or $25 million a year.

"I think it's a great thing for the Seattle Mariners, it's a great thing for Felix Hernandez and we're looking forward to this guy being here for a long time," Zduriencik said.

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees currently has the largest overall contract for a pitcher, with a seven-year, $161 million deal he signed before the 2010 season.

The Dodgers' Zack Greinke signed the highest average-annual-value deal at $24.5 million with his six-year, $147 million contract in December.

Three-time All-Star Hernandez pitched a perfect game last season while posting a 13-9 record with a 3.06 earned run average. He has pitched 200 or more innings in each of the past five seasons and has a career record of 98-76 with a 3.22 ERA.

The extension was first reported last week, but finalizing the deal was delayed when an elbow issue was found when the right-hander took a physical last Thursday, the Seattle Times reported.

The issue is not said to be an injury, but a potential long-term risk related to wear and tear in the elbow. Protective language was put into the deal to safeguard the Mariners in the event Hernandez suffers an elbow injury, the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Gene Cherry)

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