Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander signed a record $180 million contract on Friday making him the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball. Just two months ago, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners had signed a seven-year contract worth $175 million, the richest contract for a pitcher at the time. Verlander’s contract includes an option for an eighth year that could push the deal to $202 million.
In 2012, Verlander went 17-8 with a 2.64 earned run average, finishing second in Cy Young voting to Tampa Bay’s David Price. Verlander has a career record of 124-65 and a 3.40 earned run average, including his 2011 season where he posted a 24-5 record with a 2.40 earned run average, earning the Cy Young and MVP, the first pitcher to win both awards since Roger Clemens did it in 1986 with the Boston Red Sox.
“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 Dave Dombrowski said. “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.”
When Hernandez signed his record deal back in Feburary, many experts believed it would lead to a big pay day for players like Verlander and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Verlander’s new contract includes $140 million in guaranteed money and $28 million per season from 2015-2019. Now, with Verlander off the market, Kershaw becomes the biggest pitcher eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.