Justin Verlander Rumors

Tigers Notes: Cabrera, Paulino, Verlander

Happy birthday to former Tigers outfielder Chet Lemon, who turns 59 years old today.  Lemon, the 22nd overall pick of the 1972 draft, spent his first seven seasons with the White Sox before he was traded to Tigers prior to the 1982 season.  "Chet The Jet" went on to be a staple in the Detroit outfield for the next nine seasons, hitting a solid .263/.349/.437 with 142 homers in 1203 games as a Tiger and earning himself a ring as part of the 1984 World Series championship team.

Here's the latest from Motown…

  • Miguel Cabrera told reporters (including MLB.com's Jason Beck) that he hasn't talked to his agents about contract extension talks with the Tigers, though the two-time AL MVP isn't concerned given that he still has two years remaining on his current deal.
  • Catcher Ronny Paulino has been suspended for 100 games after testing positive for exogenous testosterone, Major League Baseball announced.  Paulino was originally acquired by the Tigers from the Orioles last August and Detroit re-signed the veteran backstop to a minor league deal in November.  This is the second PED suspension for Paulino, who was suspended for 50 games spanning the 2010 and 2011 seasons.  He last played in the Majors in 2012, appearing in 20 games with Baltimore.
  • Justin Verlander isn't planning on talking fellow ace Max Scherzer into remaining with the Tigers once his contract is up.  "Max is his own guy….He’s going to make his own decisions, but I don’t think I need to be a recruiter," Verlander told reporters, including Beck.  "I think from what he’s been saying, he’s made it loud and clear that that he wants to stay in Detroit….I think what this organization has done has recruited him — not just the players here. I think he enjoys being part of this team."  Verlander also discussed such topics as the Tigers' offseason moves and the rise of salaries across baseball during his chat with the media.

AL Central Notes: Twins, Tigers

Let's take a look at the latest out of the AL Central:

  • Twins star Joe Mauer told reporters, including Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, today that former teammate Justin Morneau was among those who urged him to make the switch to first base. "He actually told me, 'Joe, you need to move. It's just not worth it,'" Mauer reported. Morneau, of course, suffered a career-altering concussion in 2010.
  • Justin Verlander may not be ready to pitch the Tigers' season opener on March 31 after undergoing core muscle surgery earlier this month, GM Dave Dombrowski disclosed Thursday (via Chris Iott of MLive.com). However, Dombrowski added that the ace is "doing great" in his recovery, and if he is out of action at the start of the season, it "would only be a very short time period."
  • Alex Avila doesn't expect to go to an arbitration hearing, despite being the Tigers' only arbitration-eligible player to swap contract figures with the club, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. "Filing numbers just basically gives you more time to negotiate," the catcher commented on Thursday. As the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker shows, Avila filed for $5.35MM, while the Tigers countered with $3.75MM. 

Pitching Notes: Winston, Verlander, Johan, Yankees, Brewers

Florida State quarterback and pitcher/outfielder Jameis Winston may not ultimately be long for the game of baseball, but he has potential first-round talent, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America writes in an interesting piece. If Winston were to end up pursuing baseball, he has legitimate ability both as a switch-hitting position player and as a pitcher. But his developmental process may mean he now has more value through his arm, Cooper writes. One scout says that, if he sees enough time on the mound, Winston is a top-20 draft candidate given his low-to-mid-90's fastball and solid slider.

Here are some pitching notes from around the league:

  • The Tigers announced today that former American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander underwent successful core muscle surgery in Philadelphia this morning. Verlander injured himself in late December during his regular offseason conditioning and will undergo rehab for the next six weeks. "We fully anticipate Justin to participate in spring training and be in a position to compete at the beginning of the 2014 season," said GM Dave Dombrowski in the press release. Here's more from around the league…
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Johan Santana expects to throw off a mound this month and could either sign with a team to complete his rehab or wait until he is healthy to showcase for teams. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is still deciding the best course of action, it seems.
  • The Yankees are among several teams keeping an eye on Santana's rehab progress, reports Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. He may audition for scouts before Spring Training, McCullough adds. 
  • The Brewers have been running quietly in free agency thus far, but GM Doug Melvin says that the team is talking with several relievers, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, who breaks down the remaining options. On the other hand, Melvin seems content taking his current array of relievers into Spring Training without a significant addition. "Right now, we're just going to [fill the bullpen] internally," said Melvin, "unless that changes." 

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.



Quick Hits: Verlander, Wheeler, Gregg

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is excited about Justin Verlander's extension and the possibility it could keep Verlander in Detroit his entire career, MLB.com's Adam Berry reports. "I think it was obviously a great situation for him. I think it's a great situation for the organization. I think it's a great situation for the fans," says Leyland. "He's been with the Tigers for going on his eighth year, [and he could stay] conceivably 15 years or maybe 16. That's pretty much a whole career. I think that's got a nice ring to it."

  • The Mets should consider promoting top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, and should soon begin thinking about signing him to a long-term deal, David Lennon of Newsday.com argues. Promoting Wheeler to start the season, rather than delaying his service-time clock by starting him off in the minors, might show that the Mets are taking the 2013 season seriously, Lennon suggests. Once Wheeler is in the majors, Lennon argues that the landscape of the game (with teams signing their young stars left and right) suggests that the Mets will consider signing Wheeler long-term.
  • Kevin Gregg of the Dodgers is still bothered that he didn't receive a major-league contract this offseason, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon reports. Gregg posted a 4.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 for the Orioles in 2012. "The way last year ended, the way the offseason unfolded, you're not a competitor if you don't have a little fire to show your abilities," says Gregg. Gregg has gotten good results this spring, but the Dodgers have a very crowded pitching staff, and might not have space for him.

Tigers Extend Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander is extremely competitive, and he bested every pitcher in baseball today with his new contract extension.  His five-year, $140MM extension with the Tigers has a $28MM average annual value and will keep him in Detroit through the 2019 season.  The deal also includes a vesting option for 2020 worth $22MM.  Verlander's AAV is the highest ever for a pitcher, unless you count Roger Clemens' pro-rated 2007 salary.  Verlander's new contract could be called a seven-year, $180MM deal, since this contract technically replaced the two years and $40MM Verlander was owed for 2013-14 without an increase.  In that sense, it tops Felix Hernandez's seven-year, $175MM contract from last month (Felix received $135.5MM in new money, so Verlander wins that comparison as well).

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The option for 2020 will vest if the hurler finishes top five in the 2019 Cy Young voting and includes a no-trade clause, though he was three seasons away from obtaining ten-and-five rights anyway.  Predictably, the deal also includes performance bonuses for winning MVP and Cy Young awards.

Justin is one of the premier pitchers in baseball and we are thrilled to keep him in a Tigers uniform for many years to come,” Tigers General Manager David Dombrowski said via press release. “Justin has been a Tiger for his entire career and he is on pace to be one of the greatest pitchers in this illustrious franchise’s history.

Verlander said recently that he would not engage in contract talks once the season got underway.  With little talk of progress between the two sides in recent weeks, it didn't seem likely that a deal would be worked out in time.  With Verlander's new pact and deals for Prince Fielder, Anibal Sanchez, and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers now have north of $90MM committed to four players for 2015.  

Verlander's last extension was also of the five-year variety and was worth $80MM across the 2010-2014 seasons.  The Tigers haven't done much in the way of extensions since then, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows.  Ryan Raburn's two-year deal prior to the 2011 season was Dombrowski's last.

Even though Verlander bested Hernandez's deal by $5MM, he may not stay atop the mountain for long. His deal likely boosts the value of a deal for Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who is also scheduled for free agency following the 2014 season.  Here are MLBTR, we don't consider Verlander's contract anywhere close to $200MM — we prefer to look only at new, guaranteed money.  In that sense, C.C. Sabathia's seven-year, $161MM contract signed in December 2008 is still the largest ever given to a pitcher.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) reported the terms of the deal.  Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) had other details of the contract.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.  Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Justin Verlander Signing Reactions

Justin Verlander agreed on Friday to a new $180MM contract with the Tigers that makes him the highest-paid pitcher in the history of the game. Here are some reactions to his new deal.

  • With Verlander, Buster Posey and Adam Wainwright all agreeing to extensions with their teams this week, "the age of teams retaining their stars is upon us," MLB.com's Matthew Leach writes. Leach points out that Felix Hernandez, Joey Votto, Cole Hamels, Evan Longoria and Matt Kemp all also fairly recently agreed to huge contracts with their current teams. More money through new TV contracts is partially fueling this trend. "And it becomes somewhat cyclical," Leach writes. "As fewer stars hit free agency, clubs have fewer places to spend that money. So they spend it on their own players, and the cycle continues."
  • The string of enormous contracts for players like Verlander should be approached with skepticism, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues. "These $100 million contracts are the price of doing business, no doubt," says Rosenthal. "Whether they qualify as good business is another question entirely." Rosenthal points out that big-money contracts for players like Joe Mauer and Johan Santana have gone sour, and says that while contracts like Verlander's may be exciting when they're announced, they might not seem like such great ideas a few years after the fact.
  • The size of Verlander's contract likely makes it impossible for the Rays to keep David Price, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. An extension for Price would mean yearly salaries that would require an enormous percentage of Tampa Bay's payroll.
  • Fellow Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer says that any time he eats dinner with Verlander this year, Verlander is paying for it, MLive.com's Chris Iott reports. "I got a nice little contract this year, but no, he's buying every single dinner this year." Scherzer can afford to buy his own dinner, of course — he's scheduled to make $6.725MM in 2013.

Central Notes: Verlander, Twins, Cardinals, Cubs

Justin Verlander says he won't engage in contract talks with the Tigers during the regular season, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. "Once this last start comes around, I want to concentrate on the start of the season,'' Verlander says. There are no signs from the Tigers that an extension is imminent. Verlander isn't slated to become a free agent until after 2014, but Heyman suggests that Verlander might be less inclined to sign a long-term deal with one year to go before free agency. Here are more notes from the two Central divisions.

  • If the Twins were to allow manager Ron Gardenhire to leave, he'd be "unemployed for about 10 minutes," Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues. Gardenhire is in the last year of his contract, and the Twins lost 96 games last season and 99 in 2011.
  • GM John Mozeliak and the Cardinals are "primed for long-term success," Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says. The Cards can both strive to win in the present and count on winning in the future, thanks to a strong core and future payroll flexibility.
  • The Cubs could be on the lookout for a spare infielder, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Manager Dale Sveum likes the recently-released Chone Figgins, saying Figgins "is one who would be interesting because he switch hits and plays the outfield." But don't count on the Cubs acquiring him, since Sveum would rather have a lefty hitter with power.

Tigers Notes: Verlander, Closers, Porcello

Justin Verlander is mostly sticking to comments made two weeks ago that he'd like to be the first pitcher in baseball to sign a $200MM contract, according to James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press. "They got taken out of context a little bit, but I'm not going to take back what I said," Verlander says. "Former players worked extremely hard and risked their careers, even, so we could have free agency. I think you do a bit of a disservice to that if you don't honor what they did and use the system to your advantage." Verlander's current $80MM contract is set to expire after the 2014 season. Here are more notes on the Tigers:

  • With Bruce Rondon struggling with his mechanics, it's uncertain who will serve as the Tigers' closer, and manager Jim Leyland doesn't like that, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. "…[T]here is no question that it makes it a hundred times better when you have a closer that is a closer — and a good one — because it takes a lot of pressure off the manager," Leyland says. Nonetheless, Lowe writes that Leyland "ruled out" the possibility that Jose Valverde would return, and also suggested a trade for a closer wasn't very likely, either. An earlier report on Tuesday indicated that the Tigers were attempting to deal for a closer.
  • Rick Porcello is unfazed by recent trade rumors, MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports. "I'm in camp with the Tigers right now. I'm looking to do stuff with this club. If something happens, I'll adjust accordingly," Porcello says. "But right now, I'm here, I'm wearing a Tigers uniform, I'm happy to be here, and I'm looking to continue working for this season." Leach notes that a number of scouts from other organizations were on hand to watch Porcello Monday, when he struck out six batters in four scoreless innings against the Astros.

AL West Notes: Trout, Rangers, Felix

One American League executive told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he'd be talking to Mike Trout about a "crazy-long deal" if he were running the Angels. Castrovince considers some possible comparables for extension talks, concluding that it probably makes sense for the Angels to wait before extending Trout. His leverage is high right now, even though he's arguably the best bargain in MLB.

Here are some more notes from the AL West…

  • The Rangers announced that Jon Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations/general manager. Daniels, who became the club's GM in 2005, will still report to CEO Nolan Ryan.
  • Daniels told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he's intent on being more than "the team that used to be good.” The Rangers lost Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Dempster to free agency, but Daniels isn't worried about the transition. “You've got to keep moving forward and not be afraid of change,” Daniels said. The GM explained the importance of depth and noted that being the best team on paper doesn’t guarantee success.
  • The Rangers are among the teams still interested in free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). However, Theriot continues looking for more playing time.
  • Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez recently established a new record for starting pitchers, signing a seven-year, $175MM contract. Hernandez told Heyman that he expects Clayton Kershaw will be the one to break the record because "he's a little younger" than other top pitchers. Hernandez suggested that Justin Verlander "might get the money, but less years.'' The Mariners ace said he helped other pitchers a bit, adding that he won't mind when another pitcher breaks his record.

AL Central Notes: Tigers, Twins, Cabrera

Every American League Central team except the Royals has won the division at least once since 2007. Here are some AL Central notes, starting with Tigers, winners of the last two division titles…

  • Brennan Boesch doesn't have a clear role on the 2013 Tigers, and it's possible his recent oblique injury hurt his trade value, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. GM Dave Dombrowski has said Boesch won’t be sent to the minors, according to Lowe.
  • Jamie Samuelsen of the Detroit Free Press outlines four reasons the Tigers shouldn't sign Justin Verlander to a $200MM extension, before concluding that Verlander would be worth it, especially given the cost of starting pitching in MLB. Verlander has acknowledged that free agency intrigues him.
  • Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 hears from a Twins official that the asking price for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz remains “too high." The Twins are fans of the free agent shortstop, according to Wolfson (on Twitter).
  • Asdrubal Cabrera told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that he was surprised to find himself mentioned in offseason trade rumors (Twitter link). The shortstop added that he wants to spend his entire career with the Indians. Cabrera's under contract through 2014, but he'll probably appear on these pages next offseason if the Indians' shortstop prospects continue to develop.