Felix Hernandez Sets The Market For A Justin Verlander Extension


USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that the Seattle Mariners and ace starting pitcher Felix Hernandez have agreed to a long-term contract extension.

"Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez has agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract that should be finalized before spring training, making him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history, a person familiar with the contract details told USA TODAY Sports."

It officially goes down in the books as a seven year, $175 million deal, but Nightengale later goes on to explain that the contract will begin this upcoming season.

"Hernandez was scheduled to earn $19.5 million in 2013 and $20 million in ’14. Instead, his new contract will take effect this season and pay him a record average annual value of $25 million through 2019."

How many dollar signs will Justin Verlander see in his next contract? Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

So it’s really not so much a seven year, $175 million extension as it is a five year, $135.5 million dollar one because they were already going to be paying him roughly $40 million over the course of the next two seasons. It’s probably more appropriate to think of the deal as Hernandez earning the extra five guaranteed years at an average annual rate of $27.1 million.

If the Detroit Tigers were to use Felix’s latest extension as the baseline for another long-term Justin Verlander deal, they’d be looking at that $27.1 million rate (over five years) as a starting point (instead of the $25 million per year). This wouldn’t be the first time that Hernandez set the market for Verlander. Following the 2009 season the Tigers responded to a five-year, $78 million deal between Felix and the Mariners by giving Verlander five years and $80 million.

The Tigers might be uncomfortable with extending Verlander for seven more seasons from now – he’s three years older than Hernandez and entering his age 30 season – but Verlander has proven to be nothing if not the most durable pitcher in baseball.

Whether the Tigers and Verlander hammer out a deal this year or the following year, they’re going to be looking at that $27.1 million dollar average value as their starting point. A similar type of one-upmanship might see Verlander garner an annual salary in teh $27.5-$28 million range.