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Justin Verlander and Tigers agree to $180 million contract

Mar 29, 2013, 12:56 PM EDT

verlander gatorade Reuters

Justin Verlander was eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, but the former MVP and the Tigers have agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep him in Detroit through at least 2019.

Verlander was already under contract for $20 million this season and $20 million next season as part of a deal signed in December of 2010. This extension will begin in 2015 and includes a sixth-year option for 2020, which would be Verlander’s age-37 season.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com the total value of the deal if his existing 2013 and 2014 salaries are included is $180 million and the contract could be worth as much as $202 million if the 2020 option gets picked up. Which, if I’m doing the math correctly before official numbers are released, essentially means the five-year extension is worth $140 million or $28 million per season.

Huge, huge money, as $180 million tops Felix Hernandez‘s short-lived record for pitchers of $175 million, although the stage is still set for Clayton Kershaw to become the first $200 million pitcher.

Verlander won the Cy Young and the MVP in 2011, finished runner-up for the Cy Young last season, and led the league in innings pitched in three of the past four years. During that four-year stretch of 2009-2012 he led all MLB pitchers in wins, starts, strikeouts, and Wins Above Replacement while ranking second in innings and fifth in both ERA and strikeout rate.

Massive long-term commitments to pitchers are awfully scary no matter the circumstances–with this week’s Johan Santana news providing the most recent cautionary tale–but no pitcher has been better or more durable than Verlander through age 29.

  1. darthicarus - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Thank you Mike Ilitch. Glad to see Justin start & likely end his career in Detroit. Happy Friday!

    • evanwins - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Yeah, you don’t see enough of that 1 team all career stuff anymore.

  2. jonkchar - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    who is better, him or Felix?

  3. brewcrewfan54 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    First round is on Justin.

    • tuberippin - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      I’d rather he pass me Kate Upton’s phone number.

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        So who will earn the most? Verlander or Kate Upton?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        Take the beer dude because Kate’s not answering your calls.

  4. themuddychicken - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    That’s an acceptable payday.

  5. uyf1950 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Aaron your headline and the copy in the text are in conflict:

    Headline: Justin Verlander and Tigers agree to $180 million extension

    Text Copy: Cy Young winner and the Tigers have agreed to a five-year contract extension….This extension will begin in 2015 and includes a sixth-year option for 2020,

    • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      2015-2019 = 5 years

      • uyf1950 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        …and the option year makes it 6 years. The point is Verlander was already under contract for 2013 and 2014 at $20MM per. His total contract now including the 6th year vesting option comes to $202MM.

        Current contract = $40MM
        Extension = $162MM (included the vesting option : 2015 through 2020 seasons)

        The extension does NOT come to $180MM

      • dondada10 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        Quite the ellipsis you’ve got growing there.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      I think uyf is right on the #’s. When the option year buyout figure is announced, you take that and add it to the guaranteed extension years and that’s the value of your extension. Let’s say it’s a $6 million option buyout, then this would be a $146 million extension, with what appears to be a $22 million vesting option. Hypothetically.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        Thank you.

  6. 2dmo4 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Fuck & Yes.

  7. greymares - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    what posses teams to pay long term contracts to pitchers, with 2 years already signed this was an assinine signing at this time. I’m not saying he wont deserve this kind of money but the injury risk for a pitcher is way to high to pay before you have to.

  8. sportsdrenched - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    This makes Wainrights deal about right doesnt it?

    • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Even better. Verlander isn’t worth 50% more than Wainwright…plus his deal was done 2 years (instead of 1) prior to FA, making it much more risky.

      • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        To clarify, I am not saying the Verlander deal is a mistake. I think it is GRRRRREEEEAAAT that he’ll likely spend his entire career playing for Detroit.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Verlander isn’t worth 50% more than Wainwright

        50% better, probably not? But that assumes that all contracts [value] follows a linear path, doesn’t it? I’d say that you end up paying more of a premium for the elite players.

      • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        People seem to be forgetting how good Adam Wainwright is….in the 3 years before his TJ surgery Wainwright was 3rd in the Majors in era- and 9th in xfip- (both better than JV), he’s only 18 months older than Verlander. Of course, I am assuming both stay healthy, but if they both do, it is far more likely that Wainwright and Verland are similar pitchers than it is that Verlander is “elite” and Wainwright is just good.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        Oh, please, now you’re just being a homer. I thought you were a numbers dude. It’s more likely that Scherzer becomes the new Wainwright.

      • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        From 2008-2010, Wainwright pitched better than Verlander, better ERA-, better xFIP-. He has looked good coming back from TJ surgery, there is no reason not to expect him to return to his previous form. It is also unreasonable to expect Verlander to regularly repeat last year’s dominance (pitchers rarely do)….even though he does get the huge advantage of pitching in a horrible division.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        I’m not done arguing, but I have to get out of my jammies at some point.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        Agreed that Wainwright is very good, but there’s a few problems in the comparison to Verlander. For one, as Russell Carleton showed in this article in BPro*, being injured previously has the highest correlation in future injuries. So it’s more likely that Wainwright will get hurt again than Verlander.

        I also wouldn’t use anything that doesn’t give Verlander credit for his below normal BABIP (FIP/xFIP). The guy has thrown over 1500IP in the majors with a .284 BABIP. I think he’s shown he has the ability to suppress BABIP. Verlander has also been sub 1.0 HR/9 every year save one, so regressing to the average hurts him (as well as Wainwright who has super low HR/9).

        *http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19653

      • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        I agree that Verlander is better than Wainwright….but barring injury there is very little chance that he’ll be that much better. Every pitcher is healthy….until suddenly, he isn’t. The difference in injury risk for the two over the terms of the deals isn’t significantly different.

      • revansrevenant - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        Even if he isn’t half again as good, pay scales multiplicatively as opposed to linearly past a certain skill level. At least as far as I can tell.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 10:09 PM

        If, as you say, pitchers are good until they aren’t, it’s more likely that Wainwright (slightly older, already injured) will hit that point before V. I think Wainwright started stronger than V but that probably means he peaks first. V has significantly improved over the last 4 seasons, and with no injury, it is likely he can sustain that performance longer. Will either be great at 37? Doubtful. Who will have the rougher period from 30 – ? I think the pattern and history suggest V.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 30, 2013 at 6:16 PM

        Ooops! *better post-30 period is V. :P

  9. fusionix7 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Extremely glad to have him be a Tiger for life.

  10. jm91rs - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    $180 million in the bank and Kate Upton waiting for him at home. Not a bad life Mr. Verlander.

    • aceshigh11 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      They split up…he’s lucky he got to throw a few shots into her while she was young though.

      • jm91rs - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Damn, I need to catch up on my Celeb Gossip. My son told me the other day about Justin Bieber breaking up with Selena Gomez. I’m way behind on all the important stuff.

      • indaburg - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        Ugh. You really had to go there?

      • aceshigh11 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        Why not? Verlander clearly went there…heh.

  11. threeskis - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Good for Verlander….bad for Tigers…@ 194 IP/yr for his first 8 seasons he is a horse and no way he keeps that up thru 2019. Tigers will be dreading this deal in 2018 if not sooner.

    • fusionix7 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      He might not be in the running for a Cy at the end but he will still be a great pitcher. Most fastball pitchers tend to tail off at the end. Justin is a different story. He has 3+ pitches (slider, curveball, circle-change) to rely on once the fastball slows down.

    • jm91rs - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      In the current baseball climate, everyone getting big deals will be overpaid in the final 2 or three years of the deal. You have to overpay for a year or two because if the Tigers didn’t someone else would have. You think Joey Votto or Albert Pujols will be worth their contracts when they get to the end of the deal? No chance, but that’s the only way they’ll sign so it’s a necessary evil.

      The team has thrown a lot of money around recently, so I don’t think they’re too worried.

      • dondada10 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        Not for you and Tigers fans.

    • dondada10 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Whoa, brutal ellipsis use coupled with the inexpiable usage of “@” as opposed to “at.” Winner!

      • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        It’s a brutal day, eh?

  12. El Bravo - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Cash Rules Everything Around Me. C.R.E.A.M.! Get the money! ….

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Dolla dolla bill y’all

      • El Bravo - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        That’s the droid I was looking for. That’s right, I have a Wu-Tang/Star Wars reference jumble going on here.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        *bills

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        I missed that – wow.

        I’m giving you a Wu-Tang name you can’t get at the generator – now you’re the Wu-Tang Pajama-Grammar Solja.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        I wanted to make a Star Wars/Wu-Tang jumble response, but I am a lesser talent than Bravo. :(

  13. aceshigh11 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    That photo says it all.

  14. stabonerichard - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Including postseason action, Verlander has thrown over 1,000 innings during the past 4 seasons. Fantastic durability, no doubt, but also a butt ton of mileage on a guy’s arm. Given that he was already signed for a couple more years, taking him to the wrong side of 30, I just don’t see the need to extend a guy into the decline phase of his career at max cost.

    But maybe it’ll work out well for Detroit.

  15. vallewho - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    I just felt a twinge in my shoulder.

  16. Kevin S. - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Not sure why uyf got the hate, because he’s right – the headline’s inaccurate. Verlander got a $140 million extension with a $22 million vesting option. Why are we reporting already-guaranteed money as part of the deal?

    • vallewho - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      “Verlander gets 5-year, $140M extension” was the headline elsewhere…

  17. illcomm - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    verlander is a great pitcher. top right hand arm in the league, 28 mil though a year after age 32 is a bit of a stretch.

  18. palmersports - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    He deserves every cent of that cash. Congrats

  19. indaburg - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Congrats to Verlander and the Tigers. I love when a great player and a team are joined for the player’s career.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      … she said while staring at her David Price rookie card and brushing away a tear.

      • indaburg - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        Quit peeking into my house!

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        I’m the Easter Troll. I hide eggs where no one will ever find them!

      • paperlions - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:09 PM

        That is just mean.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        It’s best to deal with it now, it will hurt less later.

      • indaburg - Mar 29, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        I don’t know about that. Losing Crawford hurt, even though I knew it was coming. Losing Price is going to be even worse. Sniff, sniff, sob…

    • historiophiliac - Mar 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      I thought Longoria was your dude.

  20. uyf1950 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Now Justin can go out and buy the house in Detroit’s 8 Mile section that he always wanted.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      Considering the housing market in the are, for $200M i think he could buy Detroit.

    • dawgpoundmember - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:13 AM

      To be fair, have you seen Eminem’s house?

  21. fhuizar - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Verlander’s “Oh” face in that pic

    Kate Upton knows what im talking about….

  22. fissels - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    These long term deals for pitchers scare me

  23. zzalapski - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Serious question: if Verlander is an integral part of the Tigers’ success in the first three years of the extension — say, three division titles and two pennants in 2015, 2016, and 2017 — would this still be a worthwhile deal if he becomes an average pitcher in 2018 and 2019 due to aging and/or injuries?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      Depends on how well he does, but when people talk about a player’s drag on the back end of a deal they rarely considered whether or not he overperformed his salary early on in the contract. Verlander could certainly do that.

  24. turdfurgerson68 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Damn, just how much $$$ would old Hoss Radburn or Cry Young command today???

    • turdfurgerson68 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      Sorry, mean Cy Young.

  25. lawrinson20 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    The money being paid to all these guys is insane.

    And we pay for it. Ticket prices. Products cost more because marketing costs more because cable companies have to make more…. GMs can’t police themselves, and then they’ll be crying ‘poor’ while also telling their fans they can’t afford to field a competitive team or sign a needed FA component….

    Is he “worth it?” Relative to other players, maybe. In a grand scheme, no. And, if some legislative force were to dictate that these athletes could make no more than $5 million per year, you know what? They’d still be playing the game. What else are they gonna do?

    How many A-Rods and Johan Santana’s does it take for the gamble to be too risky?

    • turdfurgerson68 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Its not insane as the owners are still making huge profits from the increasing TV revenue.

      Don’t like it? Don’t go to the games…simple as that.

      What’s really insane is using taxpayer funds to build or ‘improve’ stadiums.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      And, if some legislative force were to dictate that these athletes could make no more than $5 million per year, you know what? They’d still be playing the game.

      Opening up a can of worms here, but I’d love to know where you fall on the political spectrum to make this statement. Why should a “legislative force” do this? It’s bad enough you don’t know what drives the cost of tickets/concessions/etc…

      • lawrinson20 - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:01 PM

        I don’t go to the games. Simple as that.

        The ‘insanity’ of the players’ salaries has nothing to do with owner profits. And not all owners are making huge profits. With no salary cap in baseball, there’s a huge disparity in team budgets.

        No, i’m not making a political statement of hope or expectation. I didn’t say legislation “should” do this. It was just a hypothetical, romantic conceptual thought, without any foundation in reality. If, by magic, there could be/and always had been a cap on salaries, and it was $5 million, Verlander, Flacco, A-Rod, Rodgers would all still be happy to play for that money. The comment was meant to indicate that it’s not necessary for Verlander to make $28m/year in order to retain the same quality of product on the field. These same players would not eschew the sport for another profession.

        I realize GMs need to keep important players. But, the numbers are ridiculous. And, if you don’t believe consumers are ultimately paying the price, you’re confused somehow. TV revenue doesn’t come out of the air or from trees. My previous post was already ‘too long,’ and getting into the complete economic story would have been inappropriate.

        Not sure how ‘taxpayer funds’ for stadiums is any different than that jacked up cable prices everyone has to pay so that certain channels/packages can be funded….

      • zzalapski - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        “And not all owners are making huge profits.”

        Why should we believe you? Do you have evidence from individual teams’ financial statements?

    • turdfurgerson68 - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      I agree about the cost of channels like ESPN that are passed on to cable/dish subscribers, but its not just sports channels that inflate the bill.

      So long as big corporations control the legislative process, we all pay more. Can’t blame only sports franchises.

      • lawrinson20 - Mar 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        “And not all owners are making huge profits.”
        Why should we believe you? Do you have evidence from individual teams’ financial statements?

        Please — don’t believe me. Look it up. Google is Your friend, too.

        Not sure why this has become contentious. Unless you are Justin or his agent, i’m not understanding why you’re begrudging my opinion that $28 million / $200 million is a ridiculous amount of money to pay someone to play a game. A ‘profession’ that is not short on willing applicants. A profession that doesn’t actually create anything or cure anything…. We’re not talking about owners, who invest and have financial risk.

        Believe me, i love sports as much or more than you do. Too many sports. When a Michael Schumacher made $25 million a year in salary, and another $30m in merchandising, well, hey — that’s high, as well. But, that’s a truly international sport, where a competitor is literally risking his life….

        Just seeking a bit of perspective here. Thing is, there’s no reason for it to stop at this level.

        And, yeah, consumers pay the bill. Cable contracts. Advertising revenue…. And advertising gets passed on to you in the form of product prices. Movie tickets. Cars. Soap. Food. Everything you consume.

        http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/baseballs-labyrinth/2010/dec/27/50-years-baseball-history-super-payrolls-and-mega-/

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2012/03/21/the-business-of-baseball-2012/

      • zzalapski - Mar 29, 2013 at 6:12 PM

        I don’t need Google to recall this gem from three years ago:

        http://deadspin.com/5615096/mlb-confidential-the-financial-documents-baseball-doesnt-want-you-to-see-part-1

        The takeaway was that owning a MLB team is pretty much like having a license to print money. Given the TV money that has been thrown at MLB since then, I doubt that has changed much. So, no, I don’t believe you.

        Moreover, if you’re arguing that baseball players make more than their social worth, well, of course they do. That’s belaboring the point. Do you also remark on how overpaid A-list actors and pop musicians are whenever you go to the movies or concerts with other people?

        The fact remains, though, that entertainers (including professional athletes) at the top of the line have a specific and rare skill set, for which there is a humongous market willing to see them perform. So why shouldn’t they be paid as much as they can get? I doubt Mike Ilitch would charge less for tickets if Verlander is playing for minimum wage.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        We’re not talking about owners, who invest and have financial risk.

        Because this is where many of us disagree. I think all the owners do is put up the initial cash/capital/debt to buy the team, and then get to reap the benefits. McCourt bought the Dodgers largely on debt financed by his numerous parking lots in Boston. Then he turned around and sold the franchise for a huge financial windfall. What exactly did he do to the team to increase the price by a factor of 10 other than run it into the ground?

        Think about it this way. Baseball has revenue (X) – expenses (Y) = profit (Z). If X stays the same, or grows, but expenses (salaries) stay flat or decrease, where does the extra money (Z) go? Into the owner’s pockets! We’ve already seen that the MLBPA and MLB want to cut money from both the draft and international draft (and international scouting/academies). Where does all this extra money go?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        Also, there are dozens of rich people trying to get into major sports. Every time a team goes up for sale, there are numerous individuals bidding on them.

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