March 29th, 2013

Quotes on Justin Verlander contract extension

Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski on the timeline of negotiations:

“Really moreso when we started coming down here did we start engaging in some further conversations. It started to pick up really over the last 10 days to two weeks — some high spots, some tough spots. These things are never easy to get done. A lot of give and take on both sides to make it happen, and I think the commitment was from Justin that he wanted to stay with the Tigers organization and we wanted to keep him a Tiger.”

Verlander on using the end of Spring Training as a deadline for negotiations:

“I didn’t want talks to drag really anywhere close to the start of the season. This thing was pretty much wrapped up right after my last start [Wednesday], which was what I wanted. I didn’t want anything to be weighing on my mind close to the start of the season. This last week, my preparation and everything, I didn’t want anything to take away from that. My last start was pretty much the deadline for me.”

Verlander on the lure of potentially becoming baseball’s first $200 million pitcher:

“It’s obviously very intriguing. The fact is, I have a chance to get to the $200 million contract. I just have to earn it. I have no problem with that. The opportunity to stay in Detroit and earn $200 million is great. Obviously, it’d be nice if it was guaranteed, but I’ve got to go out there and earn it on the baseball field. That’s how I got this current contract and that’s how I plan to continue the rest of my career.”

Verlander on getting baseball’s richest-ever contract for a pitcher:

“Yeah, of course it does. Obviously it’s a pretty special feeling. It’s nice, because I’ve worked extremely hard for this. It’s not like I just go out there every fifth day and just throw my hat out there. A lot of hard work has gone into this since I was five years old. Obviously it wasn’t hard work when I was five.”

Dombrowski on the risk to signing pitchers in their 30s to long-term deals:

We all know that there’s a risk with pitchers, but I think that from a pitcher’s perspective and a club’s perspective, what you try to do is minimize those risks as much as you possibly can. I think in Justin’s case, first of all pure ability [helps], but second his work ethic. You see what he does day in and day out to prepare himself. You’re talking about an unusual individual to be able to achieve what he has, the number of pitches thrown on a regular basis. I’m sure that there’s some of that that’s inherent [ability], but it’s also that he works very hard at it.”

Dombrowski on what he expects from Verlander’s pitching as he ages:

“I’m sure there are some stats that after [age] 35, certain things start to get a little more questionable. But guys that perform at a very high profile [are unique]. He not only has great physical ability, but he knows how to pitch. He has four pitches, five pitches. He knows how to pitch as that carries forward.

Verlander on his pitching as he ages:

“That’s a ways off. I’m not thinking about that. And I’ve seen guys in the past, obviously it’s been few, guys that maintain their velocity into their 40s. So why not me?”

More from Dombrowski on the risks:

“And to me, there’s also an important part. I know this for sure: He’s not content now. He’s in very good hands financially, but he’s not content. He wants to be a world champion, and I think there’s also a lot to be said that I think he wants to be a Hall of Famer. And that’s great, because as he becomes a Hall of Famer, it helps all of us. He’s very team-oriented. He wants to win. But that’s a great goal to have.

Verlander on the lure of free agency:

“Absolutely, I think it’s only natural to wonder what free agency is like. But the pull from wanting to be in Detroit far outweighed that. Obviously once we started contract talks, I wanted to stay in Detroit, and I wasn’t shy about saying that. I think it all worked out.”

Verlander on his first big purchase with his new contract:

“First big thing is my start on Monday. No, nothing too special. You might see a new car in the parking lot.”

Tigers sign Verlander through 2019, option for 2020

Justin Verlander casually mentioned in January how cool it would be to spend his entire career in a Tiger uniform. He just took one big step towards doing that.

The Tigers, meanwhile, took care of their biggest contract question for the rest of the decade. With a five-year contract extension, they kept Verlander in a Detroit uniform through at least 2019, with a vesting option for 2020.

Terms of the contract were not released. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Verlander will make $28 million each season from 2015-2019, the years of the extension. The vesting option for 2020 is reportedly worth $22 million.

Verlander has two years left on the five-year, $79.5 million contract he signed after the 2009 season. He’ll make $20 million in each of those seasons.

Add those two seasons with the reported terms of the extension, including the option, and Verlander would be baseball’s first $200 million pitcher.

Though Verlander brushed off any sense of urgency about getting an extension done this spring, he made it clear last week that he didn’t want to negotiate during the season. With next season being his contract year, he would’ve been close enough to free agency that he might have been tempted to test the open market.

The extension obviously takes that out of the question. It also puts Verlander at the top of game on the field and off.

Fister to pitch home opener, rotation order set

At long last, the Tigers rotation order is out. Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello will follow Justin Verlander and start Wednesday and Thursday in Minnesota. Doug Fister gets the honor of pitching the home opener next Friday against the Yankees. Max Scherzer be the last starter to make his season debut, pitching next Saturday against the Yankees.

It’s a shuffle of sorts in that Porcello, the “fifth starter” in that he won the competition for the only open rotation spot, will pitch the third game of the season. Leyland had said for a while that he would use all five starters the first time through the rotation, rather than use the off-day to skip one of his starters. As he cautioned the other day, Porcello isn’t the fifth starter. He’s one of five starters.

Scherzer looked for a time like he was in line to pitch the home opener. He’ll still get to pitch at Comerica Park, and he’ll actually get a network TV game on that first Saturday. By moving to the fifth game, his next start would be in Oakland at the start of the Tigers’ West Coast trip in two weeks.