Justin Verlander says no to Team USA for WBC— DKnobler (@DKnobler) February 11, 2013
As recently as Jan. 30, there was optimism from Team USA that Verlander would decide to pitch in the WBC, according to Jon Heyman from CBS Sports. But luckily for the Tigers organization, Verlander has decided not to pitch in the WBC and can focus solely on preparing for the 2013 season. I believe this is a sign for even more good news to come regarding Verlander staying in a Tigers uniform beyond 2014.
Speculation among fans has been building over the past several weeks about whether he and the Tigers will agree to a contract extension when it expires after the 2014 season. Verlander is coming off a strong 2012 campaign where he led the Tigers to the AL Central crown with a 17-8 record and an ERA of 2.64.
According to James Schmehl at MLive.com, on Jan. 25, Verlander strongly stated that he loves Detroit and wants to stay with the Tigers for his whole career.
I've made it no secret that I love Detroit, he said. I grew up in front of these fans. I feel like I've been a big part of this city and this city has become a big part of me. So, obviously, I'd love to play my career here.
Now that Verlander has withdrawn from pitching in the WBC, I would not be surprised if he and the Tigers get serious about an extension in the wake of reports that Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez could be close to an extension.
Even though there appears to be a delay over concerns about Hernandez's elbow, according to ESPN.com writer Buster Olney, this may be what the Tigers and Verlander need to hammer out an extension.
Regardless of if or when Verlander and the Tigers agree to a contract, today's news that Verlander will not be pitching in the WBC can only be positive for the organization and fans alike.