Fantasy baseball: Felix Hernandez elbow a reason to balk?

Felix Hernandez throwing a pitch
Felix Hernandez’s elbow is a major concern for fantasy owners. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Throughout the offseason, many headlines grabbed our attention. Josh Hamilton goes to the Angels, Justin Upton gets traded to the Braves, Zack Greinke signs the largest contract ever for a right-handed pitcher and the brakes have been applied to signing Felix Hernandez to a contract extension due to an elbow problem.

Wait, what?

Felix Hernandez elbow problems? All of the sudden, this 200-plus innings pitcher for the last five years has elbow problems? What the hell is going on?

Felix is currently the third pitcher in ESPN’s preseason rankings behind Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, and above Stephen Strasburg. If news coming out about an elbow problem is making the Mariners doubt the proposed seven-year, $175 million contract, then most fantasy players should be alarmed about taking Felix in the early rounds of their draft. Plain and simple. 

This startling news begs a question: Is this just smoke and mirrors by the Mariners to drive the price down? The short answer is I don’t know. Fantasy-wise, this reminds me of Miguel Cabrera’s DUI situation (instead of addiction, Hernandez has physical problems) a couple of years ago, which dove his fantasy value down a bit to where he ended up being a steal. I do not know how far Hernandez will drop, but in a vacuum, I’m taking the three guys after Hernandez first (Strasburg, David Price and Matt Cain).

Players who own Hernandez in keeper leagues must be dropping to defcon one right now. I think any pitcher who has had Felix’s run of success is a definite sell-high regardless. How many more seasons are you expecting to get from an elite pitcher with that many miles on him? Right now is the best time to buy if you believe in Felix, but if you were looking to sell, I would wait another month to let the dust settle a bit.

Instead of a pitcher with nothing to prove, Felix Hernandez may be coming into this season with everything on the line. I have no clue what is wrong with his elbow, only questions. These questions raise enough doubt to lower the expectations of Felix in February. Once spring training starts, hopefully we’ll have more answers than questions. Until then, the headlines may as well be: Felix Hernandez elbow remains a mystery.

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