Bob Gibson—the Hall of Famer and former St. Louis Cardinals hurler—won the Cy Young Award in 1968 after finishing the regular season with a mark of 22-9, the lowest ERA in all of baseball and 28 complete games, including 13 shutouts.
That season, Gibson made $85,000, a hefty income for a starting pitcher when the average major league salary was just $29,303 two years later.
The game has changed.
Times have changed.
Back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when Gibson dominated on the mound, starting pitching was considered cheap.
Now, the cost of pitching is higher than ever. Pitching has emerged as a cornerstone for every franchise. Nowadays, starting pitchers come at a premium, cashing in ridiculous paychecks handed down from wealthy owners.
In 2011, New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia decided to stay put in The Big Apple, agreeing to a new contract that pays $122 million through 2016, with a $25 million option for 2017.
Last April, San Francisco hurler Matt Cain agreed to a six-year, $127.5 million deal with a vesting option for 2018, which could add up to $141 million over the next seven years, making him the highest-paid right-hander in history at the time.
Surely, Cain’s offer would be upped. It surely was.
In December 2012, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Zack Greinke to a six-year deal worth nearly $147 million.
It was only a matter of time before that deal was bested.
Felix Hernandez initially agreed to a five-year, $135 million contract extension with Seattle, giving him an average annual salary of $27.1 million, the highest average salary dealt to a pitcher in baseball history, according to ESPN.com.
However, a recent elbow issue came up, according to the Seattle Times, further delaying the finalization of the deal.
The agreement, which would keep Hernandez in Seattle through the 2019 season, will have a drastic impact on the pitching market, especially for some noteworthy soon-to-be free agents.
The list of starting pitchers set to hit the market in the next two years includes Detroit’s Justin Verlander, Dodgers hurler Clayton Kershaw, Tampa Bay’s David Price and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.