A growing question for Justin Verlander and the Tigers is what exactly the best pitcher in game today will command for this next contract?
Just a few short weeks ago a standard may have been set by Seattle and Felix Hernandez as the Mariners got their ace signed to a record $175 million dollar deal. This of course is pretty substantial considering the next big contract for a pitcher, especially the game’s best, could reach or surpass the $200 million dollar mark.
Could Verlander be the first to the $200 million plateau? It certainly seems like he wants to be…
Friday, the Tigers ace seemed to imply to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan that he does indeed want to be the league’s highest paid pitcher when he signs that next contract.
“Of course,” he told Yahoo! Sports on Friday morning. “I don’t play this game to make the most money. But I do feel like it would be nice to be compensated for what I feel like I’ve been: one of the best, if not the best, the last few years. In my career, I feel like I’ve been one of the top. But the last two years, I’ve kind of separated myself, me and a handful of other guys.
“It’s not a thing where I’m like, ‘Hey, I want to be the highest-paid player,’ where that’s the chief goal. It innately comes with my competitiveness. That’s just me. That’s not why I play the game. I’m good at the game because of that side of me, because I’m competitive at everything I do.”
But what about the $200 million dollar mark in which Tigers fans are going to become very familiar with here in the next couple of years? Well, Verlander doesn’t necessarily believe you have to be a free agent to receive that kind of money which is good news for those who want him to continue to pitch with the the Tigers.
“I don’t think you have to be a free agent to get [$200 million],” an indication that his preference is to stay with the Detroit Tigers, with whom the 30-year-old has spent his entire career.
“I think free agency is really cool and would be a great experience,” Verlander said. “I would like to experience it, to be honest with you. But if Detroit comes along and says, ‘Hey, here’s an offer you can’t turn down,’ I’m not going to turn it down.”
It’s unclear at this point whether or not contract talks between the Tigers and Verlander have started. I also doubt that any serious negotiations would be initiated during the course of the season. But Verlander seemingly saying that his next big contract could come when he’s a member of the Tigers is encouraging for Detroit and their assumed attempts to retain him.
The ball though is definitely in the Tigers’ court and by no means do I believe Verlander’s return to Detroit is guaranteed.
$200 million or anything in the vicinity is a lot of money, especially with other questions (Fister, Scherzer, Cabrera) still out there. And with an 85-year old owner anything is possible at this point.
It’s going to be nerve racking for Tigers fans and fun for Verlander all at the same time.
h/t: Getty (image), Yahoo! Sports, Detroit Free Press