Tigers Must Sign Verlander Now, No Matter the Cost




Justin Verlander just went public with a request to be signed to an extension and if it wasn’t done soon, he wouldn’t talk about it until the next off season. This very much puts the Tigers in a tight spot. With a star like Verlander, you have to pony up and pay the man. He is tracking to be a hall of fame player, perhaps the last 300 game winner. You cannot put a price on that. You must resign Justin Verlander at all costs if you are the Detroit Tigers.

Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, a very talented pitcher in his own right, just received a 7 year and 175 million dollar extension. Hernandez is probably the only pitcher even on Verlander’s level talent wise, just jacked up the price of Verlander to cosmic levels. Here is a small comparison between Verlander and Hernandez, who both have eight major league seasons under their belt.

Justin Verlander (Age 29, 8 years): 124-65 W-L, 3.40 ERA, 1454 K, 34.0 WAR

Felix Hernandez (Age 27, 8 years): 98-76 W-L, 3.22 ERA, 1487 K, 31.5 WAR

That is about as comparable as one can get. Hernandez plays in a smaller market for a more stingy owner and has a small worry about the health of his elbow, both of which slightly deflate his value. Baseball contracts financial components are heavily based on comparing players together to gauge value. Hernandez and C.C. Sabathia (5 Years, 125 Million in 2011) are the only two comparisons available, and both are very expensive examples.

The last time both Hernandez and Verlander signed a contract extension with their clubs Verlander signed for 5 years and 79.5 Million in 2010 two weeks after Hernandez signed for 5 years and 78 million.  Verlander’s extension was almost a mirror image. I don’t think the Tigers could possibly convince Verlander to stick around for just a couple million more than Hernandez just like last time.

Justin Verlander is also on the hall of fame track. Through eight seasons his numbers compare very well to the boys in the hall. Listed below are all the pitchers inducted to the Hall of Fame since 1980.

Justin Verlander (Age 29, 8 years): 124-65 W-L, 3.40 ERA, 1454 K, 34.0 WAR

  • Bert Blyleven (22 years): 287-250 W-L, 3.31 ERA, 3701 K, 90.7 WAR
  • Steve Carlton (34 years): 329-244 W-L, 3.22 ERA, 4136 K, 78.6 WAR
  • Don Drysdale (14 years): 209-166 W-L, 2.95 ERA, 2486 K, 57.4 WAR
  • Bob Gibson (17 years): 251-174 W-L, 2.91 ERA, 3117 K, 77.5 WAR
  • Catfish Hunter (15 years): 224-166 W-L, 3.26 ERA, 2012 K, 32.1 WAR
  • Fergie Jenkins (19 years): 284-225 W-L, 3.34 ERA, 3192 K, 77.4 WAR
  • Juan Marichal (16 years): 243-142 W-L, 2.89 ERA, 2303 K, 58.2 WAR
  • Phil Niekro (24 years): 318-274 W-L, 3.35 ERA, 3342 K, 91.7 WAR
  • Jim Palmer (19 years): 268-152 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 2212 K, 63.2 WAR
  • Gaylord Perry (22 years): 314-265 W-L, 3.11 ERA, 3534 K, 87.5 WAR
  • Nolan Ryan (27 years): 324-292 W-L, 3.19 ERA, 5714 K, 77.4 WAR
  • Don Sutton (23 years): 324-256 W-L, 3.25 ERA, 3574 K, 62.9 WAR
  • Tom Seaver (20 years): 311-205 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 3640 K, 101.1 WAR

Assuming Verlander pitches for the rest of a eight to ten more seasons, his numbers could very well be in the Hall of Fame territory. Verlander’s Average season is:

Justin Verlander: 18-10 W-L, 3.40 ERA, 213 K

  • Bert Blyleven: 14-12 W-L, 3.31 ERA, 183 K
  • Steve Carlton: 15-11 W-L, 3.22 ERA, 194 K
  • Don Drysdale: 14-11 W-L, 2.95 ERA, 172 K
  • Bob Gibson: 17-12 W-L, 2.91 ERA, 210 K
  • Catfish Hunter: 16-12 W-L, 3.25 ERA, 140 K
  • Fergie Jenkins: 15-12 W-L, 3.34 ERA, 173 K
  • Juan Marichal: 18-10 W-L, 2.89 ERA, 169 K
  • Phil Niekro: 14-12 W-L, 3.35 ERA, 144 K
  • Jim Palmer: 17-10 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 139 K
  • Gaylord Perry: 15-12 W-L, 3.11 ERA, 164 K
  • Nolan Ryan: 14-13 W-L, 3.19 ERA, 246 K
  • Don Sutton: 14-11 W-L, 3.26 ERA, 159 K
  • Tom Seaver: 16-11 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 190 K

What all these guys have in common is that they all had 3 or 4 poor seasons at the end of their careers which dipped their averages. Verlander has had one bad year, (11-17 in 2008) that brings his down, but doesn’t have the deflation that pitching at 40+ years old will do to you.

What makes me think he can pitch until he’s 40, his ability to use all his pitches in every count. Verlander’s not just a thrower, he’s a pitcher. The velocity will fade away some day, but because he built up all the secondary pitches at a younger age, he’s more likely to have continued success at an older age. Also, he’s never spent a day on the disabled list during his entire professional career. By all accounts, Justin takes care of his body, except for the pregame tacobell, which endears him to long term success.

All the comparisons are finished and it comes time to negotiate the contract. Is Justin Verlander worth 30 million dollars a year. If you are the Tigers, are you willing to commit at that level for seven to ten years? I say yes without hesitating for even a second. Just a reminder how much 30 million dollars a year breaks down in a typical Justin Verlander season.

  • $882,353 per start (34 Starts)
  • $131,579 per inning pitched (228 IP)
  • $43,859 per out

Now compare that to the average salary of and MLB starting pitcher, which is 6.1 million dollars.

  • $179,411 per start (34 Starts)
  • $30,500 per inning pitched (200 IP)
  • 10,167 per out

Justin Verlander has been 8.3 and 7.4 wins above replacement over the last two seasons, both leading the league for that season. So is over triple the cost worth an extra 8 wins? Absolutely. A replacement level starter like Zack Britton or Kevin Correia, who I bet most Detroit fans can’t even tell me who those guys are, is who you would rather trot out there each day if you don’t want to spend that kind of money. The man is a hall of fame player, so just pay the guy already.

Paying a guy 30 million dollars may hurt during the twilight years of his career, but is it worth having the best of the best during his prime? One hundred percent yes it is, he will be worth every penny.

I know Justin has publicly said that he will no longer negotiate with the Tigers after his start today, but I would throw an offer down on the table that he couldn’t refuse. There are other teams out there, such as the Yankees and Red Sox that have gutted their payroll this off season in order to gear up for the 2014 free agent class, one of the richest available in recent memory. You can bet that both those organizations will offer the keys to the empire to land him, so just lock him up before he is able to take calls from them.

Its going to take 7 years and 210 million dollars to keep him for life, but he’s worth every penny.





About Dorf

Adam "Dorf" Waltersdorf is the Vice President of TMSNX and contributor across the entire Majors Sports Network. He is the Editor in Chief of the Majors East Lansing and an editor at The Majors Detroit and the The Majors Sports Network. He also is the Host of TMSNX's weekly Football podcast "Inside the Huddle" and on air personality for the weekly Detroit Sports Podcast "Motor City Uncut" and the weekly baseball podcast "The Sandlot Report".

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