King Felix predicts Kershaw will break his record contract

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez is the king of the pitching contracts after signing his $175-million, seven-year deal, but he said it won't bother him if he's soon topped by one of the other main contenders.

And he picked out who he thinks it will top it.

"Kershaw,'' the King whispered.

"He's a little younger,'' the King said.

It probably also doesn't hurt that Clayton Kershaw, who's to make $11 million this year and is a free agent after next, is with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball's best paying team after increasing their payroll from $90 million in 2012 to $220 million-plus this year.

How about Justin Verlander?

"He might get the money, but less years,'' the King opined.

Hernandez, as usual, is probably dead on. Kershaw, at 24, is two years younger than Hernandez. Verlander, probably the most accomplished of the three, just turned 30.

Verlander has two more years to go at $20 million a year, not far from the $39.5 million Hernandez had left when the Mariners ripped up his deal and gave him the new one for $175 million over seven years (later a potential eighth year at $1 million was added on to cover the possibility of an elbow issue during the term).

"I helped them a little bit,'' Hernandez said of his deal, and the two pitchers who most likely pitching candidates who might beat it. "They might top me.''

Hernandez, whose deal beat the previous pitching record of $161 million over seven years set by CC Sabathia, was the one who said for years that he didn't want to leave Seattle. And the Mariners obviously wanted him to stay just as much. The Mariners love the fact he's a superstar who's one of the guys after having superstars who weren't as friendly or down-to-earth before (i.e. Ichiro).

"I love the people there. I love the city,'' Hernandez said of Seattle. "It's a little different. Venezuela is a little bit warmer. But i feel like this is my hometown.''

It's his home, anyway, for at least seven more seasons.

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