Friday, September 25, 2009

Hypothetically Speaking: The Justin Verlander Contract Extension?

After a strangely inconsistent 2008, Justin Verlander has regained his form and established himself as one of the top pitchers in baseball. In the much tougher American League, Verlander has put together a tremendous, and at times dominant, season. He is 17-9 with a 3.41 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and most impressive of all: 256 K in 217 IP.

Verlander has become the ace that everyone thought he'd become. I'd like to tell you that I'm surprised, but Verlander's stuff is so good that I expected him to become an true ace.

However, Verlander's contract situation is an issue that the Tigers will have to address sooner rather than later. Verlander has two years of arbitration left after this season and will become a free agent after the 2012 season. He is due a big raise from the $3.675 million that he earned this season because his performance has been so good.

Hypothetically speaking, let's say that the Tigers approach Verlander about a possible contract extension. Sure their attendance is down and the team lacks significant payroll flexibility this offseason (thanks Dontrelle, Nate Robertson, Bonderman, and Magglio), but GM Dave Dombrowski understands just how important Verlander is to this franchise and wants to avoid the hassle of arbitration and lock up his ace.

Now that we've established that, what kind of contract (years and dollars) do you think would be fair here?

My guess: 4 years/$60 million
Here's why it works for the Tigers:
1. Tigers buy out Verlander's two years of arbitration (yay!)
2. Tigers buy out two years of Verlander's free agency and keep him until at least 2012
3. Verlander will easily get $7-$8 million in 2010 after arbitration...this deal would only increase the Tigers 2010 payroll by $7 million (roughly), which would leave plenty of room for the front office to address the Tigers' other issues.

Here's why it works for Verlander:
1. He would be paid in the same range as many other top starting pitchers
2. Huge raise in 2010....this deal would probably pay him more than he would have earned in arbitration in 2011.
3. He doesn't have to wait to get a huge raise
4. Verlander can still become a free agent after 2013, when he'll be just 30.


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