Justin Verlander Rumors
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.
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 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.
The Tigers are "increasingly optimistic" about signing Justin Verlander to a long-term deal, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Felix 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.
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?"
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.
- 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.
Justin Verlander filed for $9.5MM in arbitration today, while the Tigers countered with $6.9MM according to a tweet from SI.com's Jon Heyman. The soon to be 27-year-old righty earned $3.675MM in his first year of arbitration last season, so he's shooting to nearly triple his salary after finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting.
Some Tuesday links...
- After talking to someone familiar with the process, FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi guesses (via Twitter) that Tim Lincecum will file for somewhere between $12-13MM in arbitration.
- John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer has the Reds' 2010 payroll at just about $70MM at the moment.
- In a mailbag, Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe says that the Red Sox aren't likely to go out and spend on a high-risk, high-reward pitcher like Ben Sheets after signing John Lackey.
- Joe Frisaro of MLB.com doesn't think the Marlins will look to trade Dan Uggla, even after he agreed to a deal yesterday that makes him the team's highest paid player in 2010.
- Meanwhile, Frisaro says that Cody Ross is likely headed to an arbitration hearing after negotiations hit an impasse.
- Tony Massarotti of The Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox are doing the right thing by going year-to-year with Jonathan Papelbon through his arbitration years.
- After turning down the Mets' latest offer, ESPN's Buster Olney thinks (via Twitter) that the Mariners might be a good fit for Bengie Molina.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers will continue negotiating with their six remaining arbitration eligible players today, though GM Doug Melvin said that no multi-year deals are in the mix.
- John Lowe of The Detroit Free Press says it wouldn't be a shock if Justin Verlander sought at least $6MM through arbitration this year after seeking $4.15MM last year. Joe Blanton received just under $5.5MM in his second year of arbitration, so I wouldn't be surprised if Verlander submitted a figure closer to $8-9MM.
- Meanwhile, Lynn Henning of The Detroit News spoke to some scouts who think Austin Jackson might not be ready for the big leagues, at least at the plate. Jackson is slated to start the year as the Tigers' everyday center fielder.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Jose Valverde deal is official.
- The Rays aren't close to deals with any of their four arbitration eligible players, reports Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times. Tampa has a self-imposed deadline of noon ET today to get deals done, which is when the two sides must submit their salary figures.
- In a chat with readers, Tom Boswell of The Washington Post said he heard the Nationals were close to a "trade for a major-league ready pitcher of Jordan Zimmermann quality but it fell through when the other team backed out." He thinks Josh Willingham may have been involved.
- The Giants haven't confirmed if they're still interested in Miguel Tejada according to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, however he spoke to someone who says Tejada remains on the Twins' radar.
One of the game's best young pitchers signed a contract extension yesterday that will take him to his 30th birthday, as the Marlins finally locked up Josh Johnson to a four-year deal worth $39MM. The extension mirrors the deal Kansas City gave Zack Greinke before last season, and is just the latest example of a club willing to assume the risk of a breakdown in exchange for cost certainty.
Paul Maholm, Scott Baker, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Matt Cain, Jon Lester, and James Shields are other young arms who have sacrificed the superior earning power of the arbitration process for financial security in recent years. Who do the readers of MLBTR think the next young pitcher to agree to an extension could be?
Leaving aside the big names like Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander, and Felix Hernandez, here's a few pitchers who already have, or will soon enter into their arbitration years...
- Yovani Gallardo - the Brewers' young ace struck out 204 batters and allowed just 150 hits in 185.2 innings last season, and will be arb eligible following the 2010 season.
- Matt Garza - one of Tampa's many young power arms, Garza has struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings in his career, and has made 62 starts over the last two years. He's arb eligible as a Super Two this offseason.
- Jair Jurrjens - perhaps the best pitcher no one talks about, Jurrjens led the NL in starts last year and owns a 3.21 career ERA. He'll be up for arbitration after the 2010 season.
- Wandy Rodriguez - his breakthrough season last year included a 3.06 K/BB ratio and 193 strikeouts in 205.2 innings. Wandy is arb eligible for the second time this offseason after earning $2.6MM in 2009.