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Detroit Tigers Extend Justin Verlander With Largest MLB Pitcher Contract Ever


Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the game against the New York Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Mets beat the Tigers 11-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Twitter was abuzz shortly after the noon hour when ESPN’s Buster Olney and Justin Verlander each tweeted something to the effect of “big news coming stay tuned” in relative succession. A long-term (and high dollar) contract extension was the guess by pretty much everyone and, roughly thirty minutes later, it was proven to be true.

The new contract will take him through the 2019 season and contains a vesting option for 2020. The contract will reportedly pay him $180 million over the next seven years with a 2020 vesting option worth an additional $22 million. This contract is the most guaranteed money ever given out to a pitcher.

$180 million over seven years translates to a $25.7 million average annual value, but he was already under contract for just over $20 million each of the next two years. With that in mind, this new deal is really a five year, $140 million extension (an AAV of just about $28 million).

Giving a pitcher guaranteed money over a seven year period is certainly a risky proposition – and he may not be worth $28 million in 2019 – but this deal almost feels like a bargain. A lot of folks were expecting the average annual value to top $30 million, and this doesn’t do that.

Verlander will be paid to be basically a four or five win pitcher for the next seven years. He may not be pitching at that level by the end of the deal, but he’ll still be a good value for a few years at least. If he’s healthy for the duration of the contract, he could very well “earn” every penny.

It’s certainly not a bad deal for Verlander, but I don’t think it’s a bad deal for the Tigers either. In fact, I think it’s a really good deal.