Justin Verlander Talks Free Agency

FEBRUARY 22: Verlander hopes to become baseball’s first $200MM pitcher, the dominant righty tells Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  While explaining that he wants “to be compensated for what I feel like I’ve been: one of the best, if not the best, the last few years,” Verlander claims that it remains to be seen whether a new deal will come through free agency (following the 2014 season) or an extension with the Tigers.  Verlander admits that he “would like to experience” free agency, but notes that he does not “think you have to be a free agent to get [$200MM]” and maintains that he “love[s] the idea of playing [his] entire career in Detroit.”  As Passan explains, however, the Tigers may want to try to lock down Verlander before the end of this season, as the former AL MVP is keenly aware that “the risk-reward when you get to a year [of reaching free agency] is intriguing.”

FEBRUARY 13: Though Justin Verlander’s contract won’t expire for another two seasons, it’s not too early to start wondering about the right-hander’s next deal. Felix Hernandez recently obtained $175MM from the Mariners and some wonder if Verlander, who turns 30 in a week, might be baseball’s first $200MM pitcher. He has consistently expressed interest in staying in Detroit for the rest of his career, but free agency still intrigues him.

“Absolutely,” he told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. “I think that’d be a blast. If I have two more years like I just had, it would be pretty interesting.”

The Tigers haven’t begun meaningful extension talks with SFX, the agency that represents Verlander. The 2011 Cy Young Award winner told Morosi that he’d be happy to start talks and that he has “ears open.” He believes the Tigers are planning to contend long after 2014, when his current $80MM deal expires. Even so, a new deal “would take quite a commitment on their part.” If the sides don’t reach an agreement and Verlander does reach free agency after the 2014 season, he wouldn’t be opposed to hearing pitches from interested teams around MLB.

“You know how competitive I am,” Verlander told FOX Sports. “It’s kind of fun thinking about having teams battle for you.”

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

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