Larry Lage of the Associated Press reports the Tigers and Justin Verlander have reached a five year deal worth an estimated $80 million dollars. The team has not yet made the announcement, but it could come as early as Thursday, the report said.
The deal would work out to an average of $16 million a season, though it is seldom as cut-and-dried as that.
Verlander and the Tigers were set to go to arbitration this month to decide whether his asking price of $9.5 million or their offer of $6.9 was the better fit, so that would obviously be a moot point. Dombrowski will continue his track recording of avoiding arbitration with players during his tenure as the Tigers' GM. Verlander will likely be earning less than $16 million at the front of the deal and probably will take home near $20 million a season at the back.
As Lage reports, if the figure is right Verlander will earn about $2 million more than Seattle's Felix Hernandez over the same time period. Hernandez (stats) is the obvious comparison for two reasons. The first is that he recently came to an extension with the , valued at $78 million over five years. That appeared to set for the market for Verlander (stats), who is three years older than Hernandez and has bested him just once in the Fielding Independent Pitching stat since 2006. That once was 2009, while Hernandez owns a career 3.54 vs. 3.78 advantage. Hernandez's advantage in ERA grows to 3.45 against Verlander's 3.92. The Venezuelan has also struck out more per nine games and walked fewer over the course of his career.
And while some will want to argue under no circumstances should Verlander be paid more than Hernandez, I am not one of them. At just $400K more per season on average, it is not a vast overpay. One long time commenter and friend of mine, Joe Galea, described that as the "You're making me spend the next five years of my life in Detroit" tax.
Besides, none of that really matters to Tigers fans. After the trade of center fielder Curtis Granderson, it comes as some assurance -- for now, anyway -- Verlander will not be running off to New York on his own accord any time soon. Verlander has spent his entire career in the Old English D so far and in 2009 finally grew into the ace many people envisioned. He stepped up as a much-needed stopper and stood tall in Game 162 to assure the Tigers at least made it to a one-game playoff against the .
Verlander will also be able to mentor younger prodigies Max Scherzer -- who is a similar powerful strikeout pitcher in many ways -- and Rick Porcello for the foreseeable future. When youngsters Casey Crosby and Jacob Turner are given their shots in the next couple of years, Verlander will be there as well. A slew of relievers -- as Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski does believe in hard throwers -- can come to Verlander for any advice, as well.
With spring training a little more than two weeks away, this comes as a win for the Tigers, the pitcher and their fans.
I have Justin Verlander being worth around $87.5 million over the next 5 years, giving the Tigers a surplus value of $7.5 million -- pretty negligible. My projection has him around 20 Wins Above Replacement in the life of the contract, but that still might be a touch low. If he reaches my 20 projected WAR, the Tigers are paying him at $4 million per win which is about as fair as it gets. Got to like this deal from both sides, much like the Felix Hernandez contract that seemed to serve as the basis for the Verlander deal.