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Morning Lede: Should the Tigers lock Justin Verlander into a long term deal?

Carrying over some of the conversation from yesterday's posts, let's give it a full topic and a poll question.

The Tigers and Justin Verlander appear set to go to arbitration. (They won't, I'm sure.) So you know the two sides are sitting down at the negotiating table right now trying to find a number that looks better than $6.9 million to Justin, and one that looks better than $9.5 million to the Tigers.

While they're there, why not try to buy Verlander (stats) out of his next two arbitration seasons at a bit more money than he'd expect to earn, meanwhile seeing if he'd like to stay in the Old English D for another season or two when those are over?

From a purely baseball perspective, my opinion is obviously "Get it done yesterday." Verlander is one of the top starting pitchers in the game. He's just age 27 at the start of the 2010 season. Likely, his peak years are the next four or five. Having him as the ace atop a young staff with Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and later Casey Crosby and Jacob Turner can only have you salivating about the possibility of 95- or 100-win seasons in the future ...

Well, if the Tigers find some batting, anyway.

Which brings up the counter-argument. Great pitching and great defense are one way to build a pretty good team. But if you want to compete at the highest levels, you need to have some really good hitting to go with it. The Tigers do not appear to have any great hitting prospects who are two or three years out in the minors. They'll have to spend money in order to bring some of the better hitters into the fold, and they'll have multiple positions to fill beginning in 2011.

If the Tigers play in a budget-free zone, no sweat there. If the Tigers intend to spend closer to $100 million than $150, then they might not have enough money to get all the players they need and need to make the best use of the money they do have.

Another argument you might make, on either side of the equation, pitchers can be more inconsistent year-to-year and have a greater possibility of catastrophic injuries than hitters do. Is this reason to lengthen the contract in case of failure, or shorten it?

So I'll try to make the discussion a bit more open ended than the poll can be. How long do you want the Tigers to sign Verlander? And at what price per year? Are you afraid of the Tigers being stung again like they have been with extensions to other pitchers?

Some recent contracts to consider: Josh Johnson just got 4 years, $39 million. Felix Hernandez signed for about 5 years, $80 million. Presumably, Verlander should sign somewhere in between if he were to sign this offseason. (But maybe Verlander thinks he's worth CC Sabathia money (7y, $161m) and holds out hope the Yankees come calling, so he shoots down talks until he is a free agent, too.)