Felix Hernandez has to be the happiest guy in Major League Baseball as of Wednesday evening.
The ace of the Seattle Mariners is close to agreeing to a seven-year, $175 million extension, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 7, 2013
The deal is expected to be finalized for spring training and has Mariners fans jumping for joy that they won't be the victims of another pitcher outperforming their team's bank account.
Speaking of which, the only people who are jumping higher over this deal are impending free agent pitchers who just cashed in on their next big contract.
With the cost of starting pitching rivaling gold, starting pitchers everywhere are drooling over the fact that some mid-market team will pay an obscene amount of cash for their services.
This is bad news for small-market teams desperate for an ace.
With the Hernandez extension, there will be more cases in which a mediocre pitcher might not feel like he deserves Hernandez money. However, he will take a "generous discount" by settling for Anibal Sanchez money instead.
What baseball can see with this development is more cases such as what happened with Johan Santana, Roy Halladay and Zack Grienke.
In each case, the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals (and in the case of Grienke, the Milwaukee Brewers as well) had to trade their best pitcher for prospects that could either pan out or crash and burn.
It's not an entirely new development, but this could be the beginning of mediocre pitchers going insane and holding small-market organizations hostage. It will be another disadvantage for teams having to compete with the free-spending ways of large-market teams.