The Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander have agreed to a 5 year contract worth $80 million according to Larry Lage of the AP. Verlander was at the Tigers Lakeland facility working out earlier today. The deal locks up the ace through the 2014 season and it bests the 5 year $78 million deal that Felix Hernandez received earlier this month.
A long an expensive contract for any player, and pitchers in particular, is a risk. But there are certain players that are worth a gamble. Verlander had 2 years until free agency where if he continues to perform he would have netted a deal well in excess of $100 million. The Tigers secured his first 3 years of free agency at what will hopefully be a bargain.
The Hernandez comparisons are especially germane, and if you like the King Felix signing the Verlander one is just as palatable. Verlander has been at least an $11 million pitcher in each of his 4 years and with his big season in 2009 he has produced $80 million in value for the Tigers. He was likely to make about $8-9 million in 2010 regardless. He guaranteed himself an additional 4 years and $70 million.
While I think that Hernandez should get more because he is 3 years younger and if I had to pick one, I’d pick Hernandez, both are exceptional pitchers with similarly impressive resumes. I don’t want to get into a Felix/Justin debate. They are both studs and a difference of a couple million over 5 years isn’t really a difference at all.
I am concerned about Verlander’s workload the past few seasons, and last year in particular. He didn’t seem to suffer any consequences though and the hope is that JV is one of those freaks. The upside is that the contract expires when Verlander is only 31 meaning that like Cabrera, the Tigers have locked him up for his peak years.
Photo credit: Hueytaxi on flickr – photo taken February 3rd, 2010