Justin Verlander has just signed the largest contract for a pitcher in Major League Baseball history.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the right-hander can make up to $202 million under this new deal, with $180 million spread out over the first seven seasons and $22 million if the vesting option is exercised:
The 2011 AL MVP and AL Cy Young award winner immediately displayed his gratitude to the city and its fans on Twitter, boldly proclaiming that he would play out his career for the Tigers and win a World Series for the organization:
This contract is worth $5 million more than the $175 million the Seattle Mariners gave to ace Felix Hernandez in February. It also surpasses the recent agreement between Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers for $147 million over six years, and Cole Hamels’ $144 million, six-year pact signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in the summer of 2012.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who is under contract for $11 million this season and up for arbitration in 2014, is the next elite starting pitcher in line to sign a nine-figure extension. The 2011 NL Cy Young award winner will undoubtedly benefit from the market value Verlander has established.
Verlander was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2014 campaign, but he made it clear he didn’t want contract negotiations distracting him during the regular season. The Tigers front office used this narrow window to hammer out the long-term extension just before Opening Day.
The 30-year-old ace was selected second overall in the 2004 draft by the Tigers and has more than lived up to his immense promise as a prospect. The five-time All-Star has pitched for the club in two different World Series, but has yet to win a title.
By doling out this massive contract, the Tigers have put their faith in Verlander to lead them to their first championship since 1984.