Justin Verlander Rumors

Largest Contracts By Service Time

When Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo signed his five year, $30.1MM extension earlier today, it marked the largest contract ever signed by a pitcher with less than three years of service time.

Let's look at the richest contracts by service time, in terms of guaranteed money…

Less Than One Year
Position Player: Ryan Braun. Eight years, $45MM
Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia. Four years, $9.5MM.

One To Two Years
Position Player: Chris Young. Five years, $28MM.
Pitcher: Fausto Carmona. Four years, $15MM.

Two To Three Years
Position Player: Hanley Ramirez. Six years, $70MM.
Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo.  Five years, $30.1MM.

Three To Four Years
Position Player: Albert Pujols. Seven years, $100MM. 
Pitcher: Scott Kazmir. Three years, $28.5MM.

Four To Five Years
Position Player: Miguel Cabrera. Eight years, $152.3MM.
Pitcher: Justin Verlander. Five years, $80MM.

Five To Six Years
Position Player: Derek Jeter. Ten years, $189MM.
Pitcher: Jake Peavy. Three years, $52MM. 

Six-plus Years
Position Player: Alex Rodriguez. Ten years, $275MM.
Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia. Seven years, $171MM.

Some thoughts…

  • The most regrettable deals were signed very early in the player's career, Young and Carmona. Might be a lesson in using up those pre-arbitration years before taking the plunge.
  • The largest contract signed by a position player with less than one year of service time after Braun's deal is Evan Longoria's, which will pay him just $17.5MM over six years. Is Braun overpaid, or is Longoria underpaid? I think the answer is clear.
  • Sabathia's four year, $9.5MM deal nearly tripled Roy Halladay's three year, $3.7MM deal with Toronto, which was the previous record for a pitcher with less an a year of service time.
  • One only of the above contracts has expired.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

Detroit’s 2011 Payroll Situation

Once the Tigers traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson for four pre-arbitration eligible players, the thought was that owner Mike Ilitch was trimming payroll after the recession hit Detroit especially hard. However, he then approved a massive extension for ace Justin Verlander as well as the signing of Johnny Damon, and now his team's Opening Day payroll is expected to be somewhere around $130MM, up from $115MM last year.

Lynn Henning of The Detroit News wrote about the payroll savings GM Dave Dombrowski will enjoy after the season, which are pretty significant. Here's a look at the money the Tigers have coming off the books after the 2010 season…

That's $57.025MM in savings right there, and the team would be wise to avoid letting Magglio Ordonez reach the 540 plate appearances needed for his $15MM option to vest.

Ilitch isn't shy about spending big on the free agent market, and he'll have the money available to add a big bat to complement Miguel Cabrera (Jayson Werth, Aramis Ramirez if he declines his option?) as well as another elite starter to a rotation that already includes Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Max Scherzer (Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee?) after the season. Keep in mind that I was just throwing some names out there off our 2011 free agents list, and that the Tigers have not been linked to any of those players in any rumors we've seen.

The Tigers are already in a position to compete in the AL Central, and once they shed some dead money after the season, they'll have a chance to jump ahead of the pack if they spend wisely. 

Odds & Ends: Jackson, Norman, Dye, Lester, Manny

Some links for Friday night…

Olney On Verlander, Branyan, Bedard

ESPN.com's Buster Olney points out that Orlando Hudson would likely benefit from hitting in front of Joe Mauer. Those hitting before Mauer saw lots of fastballs last year and Hudson hits the heater well. Here are Olney's rumors:

  • An AL scout calls the Justin Verlander deal a "solid sign for the club." An NL GM calls Verlander a "top-of-the-rotation type, long term." An NL scout says it's a "great signing" for the Tigers if the righty stays healthy.
  • Despite concerns about Russell Branyan's back, one current coach says the slugger looks good in workouts. 
  • Some within the industry believe Erik Bedard could miss months of the upcoming season. The lefty is close to signing with the Mariners

Tigers Sign Justin Verlander To Five-Year Deal

The Tigers signed Justin Verlander to a five-year contract worth $80MM today, buying out the righthander's two remaining arbitration years plus three years of free agency.  MLB.com's Jason Beck says Verlander will get a $500K signing bonus, $6.75MM in '10, $12.75MM in '11, and $20MM per each free agent season.  The Tigers get a discount on the arbitration years, as is customary.

Felix Hernandez's five-year contract with Seattle was used as a comparison for this deal, though Verlander will pocket an extra $2MM and won't reach free agency until age 32. You could make the case that Hernandez deserved the larger contract, though that point is certainly debatable.

Verlander, 27 later this month, led the American League in starts (35), innings (240), batters faced (982), strikeouts (269), and wins (19) in 2009, earning him a third place finish in the Cy Young voting. He also has a no-hitter, a Rookie of the Year Award, and World Series experience to his credit.

The second overall pick in the 2004 draft had reportedly been seeking a sixth guaranteed year, but it obviously wasn't a deal breaker. He will earn $6.75MM in 2010, $12.75MM in 2011, then $20MM each year from 2012 to 2014. The deal also includes a $500K bonus.

The Tigers spent most of the offseason shedding salary by trading players like Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson, however they reversed course to lock up one of the game's best young arms. 

The Associated Press (via NBCSports.com) broke the news of the agreement, and MLB.com's Jason Beck added some details via Twitter.

Justin Verlander Extension Reactions

The Tigers agreed to a five-year, $80MM deal with ace Justin Verlander yesterday – $2MM more than Felix Hernandez received upon signing in January.  The deal buys out Verlander's final two arbitration years and three free agent seasons.  Reactions from around the web:

  • ESPN's Buster Olney compares Verlander to Dwight Gooden, and says the Tigers "are right to commit an enormous contract to a guy who won't be 27 for another couple of weeks, and who has established a nice base for what might turn out to be a Hall of Fame career."  Interestingly, Baseball-Reference lists Wade Miller and Hernandez as Verlander's top two comparables.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes the rarity of under-30 aces reaching the free agent market.
  • Zack Greinke will be 29 when he's eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, writes Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star.  More so than Verlander, Greinke and Hernandez are positioned to enter free agency in their prime if they choose.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck says the Tigers are one of three teams now on track to have two players earning more than $20MM at the same time.  ESPN's Rob Neyer points out that the Tigers "will shed an immense amount of payroll obligations over the next couple of years."
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports still feels that Verlander "has accomplished more than Hernandez in the major leagues."  I still disagree, but they're close and the contracts are virtually a wash.

Does Verlander Deserve More Than Felix?

The Tigers are "increasingly optimistic" about signing Justin Verlander to a long-term deal, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX SportsFelix Hernandez's five-year, $78MM deal is being used for comparison, but Morosi feels Verlander might be aiming to top that with either a larger guarantee or a sixth year.  What's more, Morosi feels Verlander is justified in asking for more money than Felix.

Morosi appears to be using the simplistic arbitration hearing-type stats to make his case – wins, All-Star appearances, and even no-hitters.  But this is not a hearing decided by three baseball rubes.  Consider:

  • Hernandez is almost three years younger than Verlander.
  • Hernandez has a better career ERA, ERA+, and FIP.
  • They're similar (Hernandez being slightly better) in career innings, strikeout rate, walk rate, and home run rate.
  • Regarding Verlander's seven extra career wins in six fewer starts, look at run support.  Verlander has received 5.2 runs scored per start, Felix 4.3.

Odds & Ends: Indians, Mets, Verlander

As Tommy John's long-lost brother Elton once said, Saturday night's alright for fighting…and also for posting news links.

  • The Tribe's quiet offseason is recapped by Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, who also looks at how busy the other AL Central teams have been in comparison.
  • MLB.com's Marty Noble outlines how he would have handled the Mets' offseason if he had been the GM, both if the team's goal was to contend or to rebuild (Noble's preference).
  • Steve Kornacki of MLive.com thinks Justin Verlander's reported five-year, $75MM offer from the Tigers "is too sweet a contract for Verlander to pass on," even without the sixth year that the pitcher wants.
  • Mark Sheldon of MLB.com passes along some tidbits from Dusty Baker on the Reds Winter Caravan.  Baker said that reliever Mike Lincoln (who last started a major league game in 2000) was a contender for the No. 5 spot in the Reds' rotation, and that the club had considered moving top prospect Yonder Alonso to catcher.  John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer sums these ideas up as candidates for the "sometimes-managers-say-the-darnedest-things file."
  • MLB.com's Bryan Hoch believes the Yankees have finished their roster tinkering before spring training, and talks to Yankees manager Joe Girardi about New York's offseason moves.
  • Chuck Greenberg, the incoming general managing partner of the Texas Rangers, is profiled by Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. 
  • MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch was all over the Q&A sessions with Pirates management during the team's PirateFest event.  Here is her latest transcript of a similar sessions with various Pittsburgh players.
  • Jon Heyman of SI.com tweets his guesses about the destinations of some of the free agent infielders left on the market.  He sees Orlando Hudson in Washington, Orlando Cabrera in Cincinnati and Felipe Lopez in St. Louis.
  • Count the White Sox out of the running for Johnny Damon or Hank Blalock, says Scott Merkin of MLB.com, since both are too costly for the limited space left in the team's budget.  When asked about the possibility of Damon in Chicago, Sox GM Kenny Williams rhetorically asked, "Who is his agent?"

Tigers, Verlander Talking Long-Term Deal

SATURDAY, 1:31pm: Tacking on a sixth year to a new contract for Verlander could cost the Tigers an additional $20MM, writes Tom Gage of The Detroit News.

FRIDAY, 4:27pm: The sides will likely reach a deal if the Tigers guarantee a sixth year, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Verlander has avoided team options in the past so a club option seems unlikely.

1:10pm: The Tigers have started talking with Justin Verlander about a long-term deal, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan. The sides are discussing a five-year $75MM deal, but Verlander wants a sixth year guaranteed. 

Felix Hernandez's five-year $78MM deal would serve as a baseline for a possible Verlander deal. The Mariners bought out two of Hernandez's arbitration years, plus three free agent years. The Tigers are looking to do the same with Verlander, who is on track to hit free agency after the 2011 season.

Verlander, who turns 27 next month, led the American League in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched last year. It was a return to form after a disappointing 2008 season. Verlander has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the last three seasons. He was named AL Rookie of the Year in 2006 and pitched a no-hitter the following year.

Verlander filed for $9.5MM in arbitration earlier this month, while the Tigers offered $6.9MM. 

Odds & Ends: Tigers, Rangers, Lee, Matthews

Saturday linkage…

  • White Sox GM Ken Williams said that the club proposed a long-term deal to Bobby Jenks before signing him to a one-year contract, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter).
  • Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski admitted that they were "probably too liberal in giving long-term contracts to players," tweets MLB.com's Jason Beck. However, Dombrowski did say they want to sign Justin Verlander, presumably long-term (via Beck's Twitter).
  • MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan tweets that there's a strong chance the sale of the Rangers could be completed today.
  • At his introductory press conference, Cliff Lee said he was hoping to be wowed by Seattle and the Mariners, and if he is, he would be open to re-signing there according to Larry Stone of The Seattle Times. When asked about his next contract, Lee joked "I want a 10-year deal for about 200 billion. Nah, I don't know."  
  • Tom Gage of The Detroit News writes that the Tigers have five lefty relievers on their roster, so don't be surprised if one of them gets traded. Bobby Seay might be the most vulnerable of the five (despite being the most established) because he'll make $2.475MM in 2010 and lefties hit him better than righties last year.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to several people in the game about the Mets picking up Gary Matthews Jr., and the general thought is that he "can't hit for average, can't hit for power, his defense ranks statistically among the worst outfielders in the majors, and, to top it off, rival scouts have been reporting that in recent years he has been a clubhouse negative."
  • Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald has some quotes from Red Sox principal owner John Henry about the team's offseason.
  • Free agent reliever Oscar Villarreal will throw for teams next Friday, tweets Ed Price of AOL FanHouse. He last pitched in the majors back in 2008 with the Astros.