A couple of weeks ago, the New York Yankees signed CC Sabathia to a contract extension of five years and $122 million, but he can max the deal out to six years and $147 million.
As with every big-name signing, there's going to be ripple effects throughout the free-agent market.
Players of the same quality will want roughly the same amount while better players will ask for even more.
Then there are the agents who think their clients are significantly better and will demand a ridiculous contract (looking at you, Mr. Boras).
So we're going to take a look at the effects on the market overall and the effects on each of the individual players on the free-agent market.
The main thing here is we're going to have agents and free-agent pitchers thinking they can get relatively close to CC Sabathia money.
The free agent market is already thin as it is and Sabathia would've been the one true, bonafide ace on the market had he not signed that extension.
With him gone, the other pitchers, especially the better ones will think they have a shot at the big money. They probably do because teams really need pitching.
So the prices for pitching will likely go up depending on the pitcher. Nevertheless, there will be an overall price increase as teams scramble to get the best pitcher available.
For some reason, the New York Yankees like signing people in their earlier 30s until they're in their late 30s, even early 40s.
I mean, they have Alex Rodriguez until he's 42. That's another five years of A-Rod folks, another five years (cut to all the Yankee fans rioting in the Bronx while A-Rod smiles).
They have Sabathia for five more years, six if he maxes out the deal which means he could potentially be a Yankee until he's 37.
This'll give the idea to other pitchers that they can pitch at the same level for at least five years. All players, not just pitchers, want financial security and that usually comes with long contracts.
Many of the free agent pitchers will be clamoring for four- of five-year deals. Many of them probably don't deserve anything more than three.
Combining the last two slides means free agent pitchers are going to need agents who can get them those deals. We've all seen agents go the extra mile to get their client that deal they don't really need.
Thank goodness Scott Boras doesn't represent any of the big name pitchers in this year's market, especially C.J. Wilson. The offseason's still young and players can switch agents, so who knows what'll happen?
The CC Sabathia signing will get agents' heads thinking of ways to get their clients similar contracts. Not particularly in price, but maybe length and lucrativeness.
Thanks to the previous three slides, some teams may just decide to not venture into the free agent market at all. Instead, they might go the trade route and hope to get better quality for roughly the same price.
That might be the safer choice this winter, but nothing's for certain when it comes to baseball, especially trades and long-term contracts.
A lot of the trades will probably be like the Jonathan Sanchez one in that they're small and will involve few players. However, there might be a big name traded like Zack Greinke was last season. Could this be the year Felix Hernandez finally gets dealt?
Trades are a huge gamble since it only takes an injury to derail one side of the trade. Signings are gambles too since the same can happen.
At least with trades, you can control the price you pay.
Since CC Sabathia might drive up prices and such, teams will want to look for cheaper options. Trading is one such option, but looking at other baseball leagues is another one.
It might not be cheaper if we're talking about Yu Darvish and the posting fee for him. However, he's not he the only Japanese pitcher, nor is he the only international pitcher, on the market.
Teams can sign international players, Japan just has that posting system for their guys. Granted these pitchers might not be as developed and usually won't be the quick fix as with major league pitchers, but they'll be cheaper and can end up being better in the long run.
All major league teams have scouts throughout the world. They might turn to the international market sooner and with more focus than they want.
Now we'll look at how CC Sabathia's contract extension will affect the free agent pitchers individually.
Since Sabathia is a starter, we'll only look at the starters but the ones who'll command the most attention this offseason.
First up is Edwin Jackson who's been up and down his pitching career. He's wild, notoriously wild. However, he's got a great fastball and has thrown a no-hitter.
Jackson's gotten better over the years but is still prone to the same problems that plagued him younger in his career. No doubt, there's going to be a team who thinks they can tap into his potential and solve his control issues.
Regardless, he's one of the better options on the market with high upside. He's also younger than Sabathia. His agent's going to spin that in Jackson's favor to get him a contract which'll be more than he deserves.
Roy Oswalt stands a good chance of getting more than what he should get.
Oswalt was once a legitimate ace for the Houston Astros, even being their NLCS MVP in 2005.
His agent is going to use his track record to get him a large contract and with Sabathia off the market and getting that money, there's going to be a team that'll offer that contract.
With Oswalt being one of the few more reliable options out there, the price on him will be rather high and it'll certainly be higher than what it should be.
The only thing that stands in his way of getting that huge contract is his injury history as there'll be some teams who won't be willing to bet on Oswalt lasting many years.
Yeah, yeah. Yu Darvish's not exactly a free agent, yet. However, Darvish wants to pitch in the US and scouts believe he can make it.
Yu Darvish, according to his Japanese numbers, can be a real ace, maybe even of CC Sabathia's caliber.
Thus, with Sabathia getting his money and no longer available, teams with money to spend will go after Darvish hoping he's as good as he seems and not just another Daisuke Matsuzaka.
There's the posting fee that major league clubs will have to go through first. After that, there's the negotiation process and no doubt his agent will try and spin that Darvish is an ace.
Darvish is going to get close to ace-status money. If he plays like one, it'll be a good signing. If he doesn't, expect the Kei Igawa and Daisuke Matsuzaka comparisons to start.
For some reason, I don't expect Mark Buehrle to be affected by the CC Sabathia signing too much even though he's more reliable than C.J. Wilson.
Buehrle's a solid pitcher who doesn't have the flashiest stuff, but he'll give you innings and get you out.
I don't think he's out there for the big money and I have a feeling he'll go back to the Chicago White Sox. However, don't be surprised if a team makes a lucrative offer to him, an offer higher than what he should be getting.
That offer will be affected somewhat by Sabathia's contract since Buehrle was the White Sox's ace thus making him one of the few aces on the market.
Of course, there's one other ace out there who'll try and take full advantage of the Sabathia signing.
Ladies and gentlemen, the poster child of your 2011 free-agent pitching market.
C.J. Wilson possibly has the best stuff out of any of the pitchers. He can match Edwin Jackson's fastball, but is more refined. He can match Buehrle's control, but has more flair with his pitches.
He's also left-handed, a coveted aspect by teams. Wilson also has ace qualities since he was the Texas Rangers's number one pitcher last season.
Wilson's agent is going to play up all of those qualities and take as much advantage of CC Sabathia's contract as he can.
As everyone knows, Wilson wasn't exactly stellar in the postseason which'll hurt his chances of getting a huge contract.
However, Sabathia's contract and Wilson's amazing regular season could change that and Wilson could end up walking away the richest pitcher of the winter.