With Felix Hernandez agreeing to a seven-year and $175 million contract (via USA Today) to remain with the Seattle Mariners, we now have an estimate of what it will take for the Detroit Tigers to keep Justin Verlander.
Make no mistake, what Hernandez brings to the Mariners is well worth the money.
“King Felix” has a perfect game on his resume and is the very definition of what we would call an ace.
You do not need to be told that Verlander fits the same role with the Tigers. He is as important to the city of Detroit as Hernandez is to the Pacific Northwest.
Signed through the end of the 2014 season, Verlander is already making $20 million per year.
The 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner is 124–65 in his seven–plus seasons with the Tigers. Throw in his most valuable player award in 2011 and his pair of no-hitters, and you have a resume that is among the best in the game.
Verlander will be 31 years old when his contract expires—if he does not extend before that—which would give some pause to how many years the Tigers would want to pay $25 million or so per year to for that long of a period of time.
The desire to get something done before it becomes an issue, and Verlander’s love of Detroit, would tell us that something will be done sooner rather than later.
The question on any contract extension is not the dollar amount per season, but the length of time of the contract. If Hernandez can pull down $25 million per season, then Verlander must think he can get upwards of $28 million.
Does Justin Verlander even hit free agency?
If the Tigers offer him four years at around $115 million in addition to the two years he has left at $20 million a crack, then that would keep him happy in Detroit throughout his prime years as the unquestioned ace of the Tigers' staff.
If Verlander starts publicly hinting about wanting a six or seven year deal, than the Tigers would probably be not as eager to be paying a 38-year-old pitcher close to $30 million per year without any guarantees that he can still pitch an exceptionally high level.
There is absolutely no reason to think at this point that Verlander will ever reach free agency. He loves pitching for the Tigers and Detroit has fallen in love with him.
Now that both the Tigers and Verlander have a guideline about how much money per year the market will pay, it now comes down to a question of just how long a new deal would be.
Do not be surprised if you read about a five-year extension just after the season starts that would pay him just under $140 million to keep him at Comerica Park for as long as he wants.
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