Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports that he doesn't plan to release Hernandez this offseason. The stalwart of the franchise for the past decade just completed the worst season of his career and will earn $27 million in 2019.
Dipoto said "out of respect to the career he's had he deserves the opportunity" at the start of next season to resurrect his career with Seattle.
Hernandez posted a 5.55 ERA (73 ERA+), 5.18 FIP, and 1.40 WHIP over 29 appearances for the Mariners in 2018, and in August was moved to the bullpen for the first time. He made one relief appearance before returning to the rotation after injuries to other pitchers.
Hernandez's startling downturn over the past three seasons has coincided with a spike in his salary as part of a seven-year, $175-million extension signed in 2013. The 2019 season is the final guaranteed year of the deal (the Mariners hold a club option for 2020), but his $27-million salary for the year renders him all but untradeable. Even if the Mariners found a partner, Hernandez owns full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player.
The 32-year-old remains, in Dipoto's words, a "beloved" member of the Mariners. Since joining the club as a teenager in 2005, "King Felix" has appeared in six All-Star Games, thrown a perfect game, and he won the 2010 Cy Young Award while finishing as the runner-up on two other occasions. He's the Mariners' franchise leader in virtually every major pitching category, including wins (168), ERA (3.34), strikeouts (2,467), and innings pitched (2,658).
Many of their remaining high-priced players besides Hernandez, including third baseman Kyle Seager and the newly-acquired Carlos Santana, are believed to be on the trade block as the effort to trim payroll continues. Heyman reports that first baseman Ryon Healy could also be moved.