By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT — Justin Verlander appears set to remain a Tiger for quite a long time. The All-Star right-hander has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract with Detroit.
The Associated Press reported the agreement, citing an anonymous source familiar with the negotiations. The deal could reportedly be formalized on Thursday.
Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was not immediately available for comment, nor were Verlander’s agents at SFX. A Tigers spokesperson declined comment.
Though it was known negotiations had gotten under way, both the Tigers and Verlander have been quiet about the talks. One catalyst to help get talks going was the five-year, $78 million contract Felix Hernandez received from the Mariners in January. Like Hernandez, Verlander would’ve been eligible for free agency after the 2011 season without a deal. Both of them finished in the top three in voting for the 2009 American League Cy Young Award, behind winner Zack Greinke.
“With long-term deals, it’s to each his own,” Verlander said. “Every player, it’s basically what you’re willing to sell your rights for, because that’s what you’re selling. You’re selling rights to arbitration and free agency.”
Given that context, the reported numbers make sense. Verlander is a self-admitted highly competitive young man. Getting even $2 million more than Hernandez in the total value of the contract would be a big deal, though Verlander initially downplayed the significance of Hernandez’s contact when it was first announced.
For the Tigers, keeping Verlander for the long term is a huge deal. Though Detroit has been watching its finances lately, Verlander is the unquestioned face of the franchise, even at the tender age of 26. The reaction he received from fans on the Tigers Winter Caravan and at TigerFest last month backed up the perception. One fan who got an autograph from Verlander at TigerFest asked him please not to leave Detroit.
The reported deal would pretty much take care of that, barring a trade down the road. The five-year contract would cover Verlander’s two remaining arbitration years and three years of potential free agency, keeping him off the open market until after the 2014 season. He would still be in his prime years then — just about to turn 32 — so he could easily get another long-term deal if he continues to stay healthy and productive.
Verlander’s turnaround in 2009 was at the heart of the Tigers’ run to within a game of the AL Central crown. A year after sharing the Major League lead in losses with 17, the right-hander tied for the big league lead in wins with a 19-9 record. His 269 strikeouts, 240 innings and 35 starts all led the Majors in what was the most dominant season from a Tigers starter since Jack Morris two decades earlier.
Morris didn’t spend his entire career as a Tiger, but with 14 seasons in Detroit, he had a pretty long Tiger tenure. With a five-year contract, Verlander is in line to make it at least a decade for him in Detroit.
In the end, Verlander had to weigh the prospect of long-term security in Detroit against the chance to be the most coveted free agent on the market in two years if he remained healthy and productive.
< There's certainly some risk on that end from the Tigers, who have seen Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Dontrelle Willis all miss significant time with injuries and inconsistency since signing long-term deals. Dombrowski made a rare admission as such during TigerFest last month.
"We were probably too liberal in giving long-term contracts to players," Dombrowski said at the time. "A couple of those contracts didn't work out."
Verlander's 240 innings led the Majors last year, and his 3,937 total pitches were 305 more than the next-highest total from Hernandez. But Verlander hasn't had a major injury since turning pro, and he is meticulous about an offseason workout program that he credits for allowing him to throw so hard for so many pitches one outing after another. So far, there are no physical indications that Verlander can't keep up his workload.
Regardless of the risk, and regardless whether the Tigers spend big in the years ahead — they have potentially more than $50 million in contracts expiring after this season — they had to make every effort to re-sign Verlander now.
Report: Tigers spend cash, sign ace Verlander for $80 million
By David Brown – Yahoo! Sports
The AP reported on Wednesday night that the Tigers have signed their ace right-hander to a five-year, $80-million contract extension that keeps Verlander wearing the old English “D” through at least 2014.
And whenever Detroit-based AP writer Larry Lage does a story about Verlander, he always — always — includes this distinction:
Verlander is the only pitcher in baseball history to toss a no-hitter, start a World Series game, be a Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in his first two full seasons.
I love that note! And it’s in practically every single Verlander story by Lage since late 2007. Look it up.
Anyway, Cot’s Baseball Contracts says Verlander at $16 million per annum becomes the ninth highest-paid starting pitcher in the majors — just behind A.J. Burnett and John Lackey, and just ahead of Seattle Mariners righty Felix Hernandez.
In the wake of the Tigers imploding in the season’s final weeks, the club moved Granderson and Edwin Jackson in a trade, while also letting go of Placido Polanco, Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon in free agency.
Verlander, who was about to go to arbitration, would have hit the free-agent after the 2011 season. The Tigers were cutting payroll just for this, just so they could afford Verlander and figure out how to build around him and Miguel Cabrera — who makes nearly $20 million a season through 2015.
So writes Jason Beck of MLB.com:
There was a line of thought not long ago that a team cannot win if one player takes up more than 15 percent of payroll. Assuming the numbers above, Verlander and Cabrera could combine to make anywhere from $40 to $45 million from 2012-14. Even if the Tigers hold payroll around $120 million per year, Verlander and Cabrera would take up at least a third of that.
Well, worrying about tomorrow, tomorrow hasn’t bothered Detroit before.
Today, Motown is happy, just like Seattle when Hernandez signed his deal with the M’s.
King Felix apparently set the bar for Verlander earlier this offseason by agreeing to a $78-million extension. Hernandez is three years younger than Verlander and, the calculus wizards at Fangraphs note, he’s been a little bit better of a pitcher, too. It’s eerily close in several ways, actually.
Hernandez: FIP—3.54; WHIP—1.27; K/9—8.06
Verlander: FIP—3.78; WHIP—1.28; K/9—7.99
If the top starters in the majors are Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum, then Hernandez and Verlander are very close behind.