The Detroit Tigers announced on Friday afternoon that they have extended their ace Justin Verlander for another five years beyond his current contract, which expires after next season. With a vesting option for a sixth year, the 2011 Cy Young and MVP winner could be a Tiger through the year 2020, when Verlander will be 37 years old.
The news was teased about a half hour before it broke by ESPN's Buster Olney and Verlander himself, leaving little to the imagination. Almost simultaneously to the Tigers tweeting the news, Olney provided the meat, and by meat, I mean money terms.
Verlander's extension is reportedly worth $140 million, but with the $40 million he's set to make the next two years on his current deal, that puts him at roughly $180 million over the next seven years. The vesting option for the sixth year on the extension is worth $22 million. That's puts him at approximately $202 million over the next eight years without incentives. In a made-up race to be baseball's first $200 million pitcher, that should put Verlander there first.
As for what this means for the Tigers in general, it means they have locked up the best pitcher in baseball. Of course, it also means they'll have over $90 million going to just four players in 2015 – Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Anibal Sanchez. About half of this year's MLB teams have a TOTAL PAYROLL less than that.
Money has not been an issue for Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch in recent years, but it's possible he doesn't live to see the team's lavish salaries escelate. He may not live to next year, let alone 2015. Maybe all Mr. I's spending to desperately bring Detroit (and himself) a World Series will present itself to be a major, major fiscal cluster eff in a couple years (for another owner). Coveted young stars like Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson, both Boras clients, may have to sign elsewhere down the road in order to get "theirs". It'll depend on Ilitch and/or the next owner. Who knows.
For now, though, it's another gigantic score for Ilitch, the Tigers and their fans.