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Justin Verlander wants to be the game’s first $200 million pitcher

Feb 22, 2013, 9:32 PM EDT

Justin Verlander AP AP

Since Felix Hernandez inked his seven-year, $175 million extension with the Mariners earlier this month, there has been a lot of discussion about who will be the game’s first $200 million pitcher. One of the most likely candidates, Justin Verlander, tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that he feels he is deserving of the distinction.

“I don’t play this game to make the most money. But I do feel like it would be nice to be compensated for what I feel like I’ve been: one of the best, if not the best, the last few years. In my career, I feel like I’ve been one of the top. But the last two years, I’ve kind of separated myself, me and a handful of other guys.

“It’s not a thing where I’m like, ‘Hey, I want to be the highest-paid player,’ where that’s the chief goal. It innately comes with my competitiveness. That’s just me. That’s not why I play the game. I’m good at the game because of that side of me, because I’m competitive at everything I do.”

While Verlander said “free agency is really cool,” he also doesn’t think that he has “to be a free agent to get [$200 million].” In other words, if the Tigers come to him with the right offer, he would listen. But he’s also keenly aware that if he continues to pitch the way he has over the past two years, there could be a serious bidding war on the open market.

Verlander, who turned 30 on Wednesday, is currently eligible to become a free agent following the 2014 season. Dodgers’ left-hander Clayton Kershaw might be the best candidate of all to top $200 million, as he’s nearly five years younger than Verlander. By the way, he’s also due to become a free agent after 2014.

  1. historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    I want him to be too.

    • indaburg - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:09 PM

      But then he’d have to live in one of those sterile and show room quality rich people homes. You wouldn’t want that now. 😉

      • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM

        Judging from his twitter pics, you don’t have to worry about that. He’s an overgrown boy.

        …of course, that will change once he gets married or morphs into a centaur.

      • indaburg - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:40 PM

        There comes a time in every boy’s life when he morphs into a centaur.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM

        Oh? How old was your husband when he went through the change? lol

        Are you drinking yet too?

      • indaburg - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:45 PM

        Hehe.. apologies to Mark Twain.

        Just a little bit.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      I want to kiss Kate Upton.
      She looks like a nice girl.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:19 PM

        They may have broken up, so you could be in luck. She said in an interview for V-Day that she is single. IDK if that’s bs to protect their privacy or what. But, you could take that as hope.

  2. chill1184 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    It was only a matter of time until he actually said it

  3. halohonk - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Maybe then he could afford a 50 million dollar mansion. He deserves it. God when are these teams gonna stop paying these guys that kind of $ ? Is he really worth it ? Will these owners get their moneys worth ?

    • chill1184 - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      “God when are these teams gonna stop paying these guys that kind of $ ?”

      Eventually two things will happen

      1. The high contracts will hit its peak in which only a select few teams can afford them which in term limits the market for elite players

      2. Mid to small market teams will eventually force Selig or whoever is commissioner at time to put something in place to keep competitive balance. Perhaps an actually contract term limit aka max contract for a pitcher would be 5 years for example.

      • bigharold - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:30 AM

        “The high contracts will hit its peak in which only a select few teams..”

        Really, because one of the biggest contracts ever given was from Texas, .. IN 2001 for $252 mil.

        “Mid to small market teams will eventually force Selig or whoever is commissioner ..”

        No they won’t. The MLBPA isn’t about agree to a salary cap, .. or any other mechanism to limit FA salary. And, why should they? There are already enough owners that are making a profit with out attempting to be competitive.

        I’d rather the occasional player be overpaid than the average owner reap greater profits while reducing the incentive to be competitive.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:55 AM

        I actually don’t mind a cap on years. I think the 10 year contracts are getting a little ridiculous and I’m a person who defends the Union on every front. That said I would argue against a cap on dollars regardless of how high it is. All a cap does is make labor subsidize billionaires who own teams in small markets. If your market can’t support a high dollar player then you don’t get him and if that means you can’t field a good team ever then your team should die. This is America…no one told you to place a bet on small town with your baseball franchise.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:52 AM

      Considering how every major league owner is making money hand over fist….yeah they are getting their money’s worth.

  4. tuberippin - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    It’s going to be Kershaw imo. Younger than Verlander (as mentioned in the article), already has 1 Cy Young under his belt, hasn’t hit his prime yet, and is on a team that just gave a #2 pitcher $175,000,000 and has been spending money like it’s going out of style.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      Not that this distracts from your main point, but 1) Zack Greinke has been, conservatively, one of the ten best pitchers in baseball over the past five years. He’s a #1. 2) He got a $147,000,000 contract.

      • tuberippin - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:23 PM

        He is a #1 whose statistical output & peripherals do not match his raw stuff. He’s a #1, but on the Dodgers he’s a #2 being paid as a #1.

        And good catch; had one drink too many and mistook King Felix’s new deal for Greinke’s new deal.

  5. smcgaels1997 - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    If he wants 200 million…can’t get shelled in his WS starts

    • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:07 PM

      Yes, because that’s what sets pitchers’ salaries.

    • tuberippin - Feb 23, 2013 at 2:53 AM

      Tell that to Alex Rodriguez…

      • cackalackyank - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Forgive me, but I am unfamiliar with A-rods record as a starting pitcher in the post season.

      • tuberippin - Feb 23, 2013 at 8:07 PM

        You are not forgiven, sir.

        Correct me if I am wrong here, but what you are saying is that if Justin Verlander wants a $200,000,000 deal, he will have to improve his performance in the post-season, namely the World Series.

        I responded by saying, “tell that to Alex Rodriguez”, referring to the fact that professional sports’ only $200,000,000 man has been routinely given flak for his shortcomings throughout multiple post-seasons with the Yankees (though some of that criticism is more bombastic and exaggerated than it is valid). Despite those continued shortcomings, he still managed to procure a second $200,000,000+ contract.

        Therefore, the point I was attempting to demonstrate is that player salaries are generally not reflected by how one performs in the post-season, though Marco Scutaro might be inclined to disagree with me considering the new deal he received from San Francisco in light of his contributions to their 2012 World Series championship.

  6. alexo0 - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    I guess Verlander doesn’t include the postseason in his assessment.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      Considering he has 232 regular season starts against 12 postseason starts, you shouldn’t either.

      • garlicfriesandbaseball - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:46 AM

        Are you saying postseason doesn’t count? Maybe he just doesn’t do well under pressure.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:01 AM

        I’m saying maybe twelve starts spread over three postseasons tell us dick about how well he’s like to pitch going forward.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Last year, V was 3-1 in the post-season. The year before, he was 2-1. His worst year (1-2) was 2006 — his rookie year. He had 29 SO last year in the playoffs and his ERA was 2.22 (down from 5.82 in 2006). His loss last year might have been really ugly, but he was not sucky overall. The real problem for the Tigers last year was not V. He’s right about being great the last couple of years.

  7. jokersmokermidnight - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    No doubt Verlander is elite but for 200 million I hope he’ll come through on the big stage. In three World Series appearances: 0-3, 7.20 ERA, 15 IP, 18 H, 12 ER, etc…

    • baseballisboring - Feb 23, 2013 at 4:39 AM

      For as good as Verlander is, it would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. We’re dealing with a REALLY small sample when you’re talking about 12 post season starts. Which, by the way, he has a 4.22 ERA in overall, which isn’t terrible. You’ll never convince me that a pitcher as talented as Verlander just can’t handle “the big stage”.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        And if you take out his rookie year in 2006, his record on the big stage is even better.

  8. ch0psuey - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    MLB Salaries are getting way oughta hand.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Feb 23, 2013 at 3:44 AM

      People have been saying that since Koufax and Drysdale held out for $100,000. Well, probably long before that. Which doesn’t make it untrue.

    • baseballisboring - Feb 23, 2013 at 5:18 AM

      When you consider what the teams are pulling in? Not really.

  9. biasedhomer - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    $200M for a 30+ yr old pitcher is not worth it.
    He’ll probably have 5 more elite seasons, and then be decent pitcher for the rest of his career.

    It’s one thing to give a position player that kind of money, but with pitchers the arm can go out any day (or as they like to call it frequently nowadays, a “dead arm”).

  10. neveraboutveracity - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    This is obscene. A bunch of grown men playing a little boy’s game. And you people on this board want to see it happen. $40 tickets for the worst seats. $7 hot dogs. $8 beers. Cable bills through the roof to pay for the broadcast rights. How long of a contract does he want to make this happen? Eight years at $25 mil each? He has averaged 33 starts the last five years. That’s would be $757, 575 per game. Baseball salaries have become so out of touch with reality, and these fools who play the game actually think they are worth it. Puke.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      So don’t watch.

    • js20011041 - Feb 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Player salaries have almost nothing to do with the price of tickets and concessions. Do you know why owners charge as much as they do? Because we pay those prices. The players could offer to play for free and I promise you the prices wouldn’t change. Lower player salaries would just put more money into the pockets of the owners.

    • jwbiii - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      T repeat myself, look the price of football tickets. Notre Dame “pays” their players $55k in tuition, fees, room, and board. The Bears pay their players a little over $2M on average. Despite their player costs being 1/40th of the Bears’, Notre Dame charges more for tickets. Demand, not player salaries, drives ticket prices.

  11. liamj55 - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    How come no one ever puts into the equation of him getting paid for what he has done? Hasn’t been underpaid the last couple of years???

  12. buffalo65 - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    See actors, tv stars, stars from any other sport……

  13. yousuxxors - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    200 million at 30 …. unless hes 40 a year i dont think this is a good idea… ask the yankees and pitchers dont last as long. kershew is def getting 200 million no doubt in his prime.

    • cackalackyank - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      If Kershaw stays healthy that is…

    • jwbiii - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      The Yankees, of course, will spend $22M this season on a couple of over 40 pitchers and another $15M on a 38 year old pitcher.

  14. andreweac - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    As long as people don’t complain about their cable bills it could be $500 million for Harper or Trout when they reach FA.

    Harper will be 26 when he’s a FA. If he develops at his current pace $300 million is already a given.

  15. fusionix7 - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    He is 30, but he has never been on the DL. While his fastball is the main pitch, when he gets on in years he has 3 other plus pitches. That and if Ilitch is willing to give Prince Fielder 200m in a market that wasn’t coming close to it, no doubt Ilitch isn’t shy about throwing 200m to Justin.

    • bigharold - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      The problem is by the time he gets to FA he’ll be closing in on 32. I’m not sure there is much of a market for 32 year old pitchers looking for 7-8 year contracts.

      I think JV is a great pitcher but his contract expectations will suffer from the likes of A-Rod, Pijlos and others that hit FA in or near their 30’s. The next two years will give owners and GMs more insight into why giving aging stars is NOT a good idea.

      Long term big money deals will be hard to come by. But, I think he has a chance but a slim one.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:38 AM

        I doubt the Tigers will wait til he is an FA before they re-sign him. He’ll get an extension before he’s 32.

      • cackalackyank - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM

        I have to agree. Best case scenario would seem to be an extension gets done in the next year and he gets six years at 33.3. If the deal does not get done before age 32 and he hits the FA market it would have to be a 5 year 40 million dollar deal for him to be the 200 million dollar man. I just don’t see anyone offering over 20 mill per for a guy’s age 38 season. Even if that guy is Justin Verlander.

  16. juradura - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    JV is the best pitcher in the game and has been from years. He is this generations Rocket. In my book it goes JV, CC, Stras, Geo, and J Weaver. Everyone else is just middle of the pack, including Kershawn and Price.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:59 AM

      I don’t think Felix is middle of the pack. I put him up by V.

      • juradura - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:02 AM

        You’re right King Felix isn’t middle of pack but he kind of gets forgotten being on the M’s. The dude is a true ACE just like JV.

    • escapingexile - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      You must be a Nats fan. That’s a fun little world you live in. Gio is elite and Kershaw is middle of the pack? That’s laughable. Oh ya, Gio had a great year last year, I won’t argue with that. 2.89 era and a 137 era+ aren’t too shabby. Then again, when Kershaw has a 2.79 era and 138 era+ for his entire career, I guess it puts that career year for Gio in perspective.

      I won’t rattle off statistics on the peripherals, but do the research. Kershaw is leading or right there with everyone you have mentioned, and in some cases, far beyond. The kid is 25 years old, and aside from missing one start with some hip pain last year, has no injury history. If it was my money, I’d bet on Kershaw being the most likely to live up to an absurd contract.

      Maybe you can make a case for some of the others. But, as with all things, really it boils down to preference. But really? Middle of the pack? Get real.

  17. halohonk - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    If Harper would be worth 300 mil Trout would be worth 500 mil. Harper was vastly overrated last year. Shouldnt have made the all star team or rookie of the year. He was good but major east coast bias. The stats dont lie.

    • whmiv21 - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:30 AM

      Yeah, because he was relevant to this discussion.

  18. juradura - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    Every time I see this guys, I say to myself, I’m watching a Hall of Famer right here, right now. He single handily took the tigers to the WS twice. Seems like the guys throws a no hitter or a 1 hitter every 5 days. Prince and Miggie are both too fat and spend too much time counting their money to be great team leaders but JV keeps the Tigers in it every season. I don’t like the huge contracts, they’re outrageous, prosperous, and will destroy sports. However, if crazy contracts are given then JV deserves one.

    • garlicfriesandbaseball - Feb 23, 2013 at 2:00 AM

      “He single handedly took the tigers to the WS twice?”

      Well that explains it. My vote’s with the guys who are consistent, maybe not spectacular, and when they get to the World Series they don’t buckle. Matt Cain comes to mind, along with his four pitching partners and the rest of the team. No East Coast bias here.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 23, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        I’m sorry, Detroit is on the east coast? What map are you using? Maybe you are confused by the time zones? Tigers play in the central division.

    • jwbiii - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      Being fourth in the league in runs allowed was nice but being fifth in the league in runs scored was also helpful. That fellow with the triple crown and the MVP* was pretty handy to have around.

      * I would have voted for Trout, but that’s an argument I lost in the past, so let’s not rehash it.

  19. xjokerz - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Trade Verlander now

    • cackalackyank - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Don’t tell me let me guess..there is a team you would prefer to see aquire him isn’t there?
      There isn’t a package out there that could get that done, unless the Dodgers are dealing Kershaw.

  20. btwicey - Feb 23, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    Inflation. I love the worlds economy

  21. davresnick - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    What do you mean you don’t play the game to make the most money. Then why do you think you are worth and would like $200 million. That’s absurd and full of greed. Give me a break!

  22. genericcommenter - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    He deserves a girthy contract but the length is an issue. Whether he gets an…extension, or hits the free agent market, he’s going to be older than most pitchers with the massive total packages. The yearly contract will be massive, but at 32 can you really go beyond 6? In reality 7 is really pushing the upper percentiles in length, and 8 is almost unheard of. The last guy to hit 8 really petered out once he hit rarefied air. And if you want double-digits? Pretty much the stuff of legend. The last (only?) 10+ pitcher was a mustachioed guy who did his best work in the early to mid 80s. And once he got paid, his performance went limp and he made contact with a lot of bats.

    I think if any pitcher is going to carry a package that substantial, it’s going to be a young up-and-comer with stamina who can keep balls down to pitch into the late innings consistently, develop a hard slider to finish them off, and it’s going to take at least a solid 8 to max out.

    • gmfw7 - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      i can’t understand why you only got three likes, because i’m in tears at my desk right now…absolutely brilliant

  23. fat4jc - Feb 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Did someone just say Kershaw was middle of the pack? I’m a giants fan, and freely admit Kershaw is the best pitcher in the NL if not all of MLB.

  24. xjokerz - Feb 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Roy halladay was traded … Verlander can most definably be traded

    hes 30..and wanting 200 million?

    even as a Tigers fan, i dont want to see that much money on a 31-32 year old pitcher when his 200 million deal goes into play

    we arent the yankees

  25. soobster - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Entirely too many miles on that arm to give a 32 year old pitcher a 200M deal. Hell, anything more than a 5 year/ 125M deal when he hits the market is asinine.

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