|California's Justin Verlander|
"The reasoning behind the deal is pretty simple," answered Roadrunners' GM Brendan Conrad. "Santa Barbara. There really was no other justification we needed to be aggressive on the market than trying to beat our Southern California rivals." The California GM went on to explain that while the deal itself moved pretty quickly with Latrobe, the delicate announcement of the trade had to be timed just right.
Santa Barbara had matching rights to Hernandez, but opted to pass on signing The King because of the length and total dollars tied up in the deal. What Santa Barbara didn't know is that when the Roadrunners announced that they wished to pursue Hernandez, they had already acquired Verlander from Latrobe. This is where things became dicey; the Outlaws could decide to match the offer, but the Roadrunners knew that Santa Barbara typically does not invest large amounts of money in free agents. However, if Santa Barbara moved forward with Hernandez, they had a backup plan in place by bringing in Verlander.
"We knew that if Santa Barbara knew about the deal for Justin that they would have signed Felix," explained GM Conrad. "We also knew that we were technically under a trade freeze so any announcements of deals needed to wait until free agency was over. We decided to let things play out on their own and reconnect with Latrobe after the free agency period was officially over and then formally announced the deal to the Commissioner's office."
As it turned out, Santa Barbara passed on the opportunity to match the offer, and California proudly announced to the league that they had added another ace to their staff. The Roadrunners are now set with one of the top rotations in the AL with Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, John Lackey, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Gerrit Cole. Although California will have to manage the size of these contracts, their rotation is set and under control with these five pitchers for the next three seasons. Time will tell if paying for pitching stability and reliability will be worthwhile, or if it will handcuff the team for the next six to seven seasons.