Justin Verlander likely would have earned a nine-figure contract if he was able to stay healthy and successful for two more seasons.
Instead, Verlander agreed to an $80 million, five-year deal to stay with the Detroit Tigers.
“It wasn’t very tempting, to be honest,” he insisted Thursday after the contract was finalized. “It’s fun to think about, but why risk anything else if you know this is where you want to play baseball? And, I certainly don’t plan on my career being over in five years.”
In fact, Verlander is aiming at a much higher kind of honor.
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“I have one goal, and that’s to make it to the Hall of Fame,” he said. “If you get there, you’ve done some things right.”
The Tigers will get a good return on their investment if he makes progress toward that lofty destination.
Verlander’s deal that avoids a salary arbitration hearing includes a $500,000 signing bonus, $6.75 million this season, $12.75 million next year and $20 million in each of the following three seasons. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2011 World Series.
Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski called it “a very happy moment for the organization.”
“He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and someone who can anchor our staff over the next five years,” he said.
The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year tied for the major league lead with 19 wins last season. He led the majors with 269 strikeouts, 240 innings and 35 starts, and had a 3.45 ERA.
When figures were exchanged in arbitration, Verlander asked for $9.5 million for 2010 and the team offered $6.9 million.
The two-time All-Star got $2 million more than a comparable pitcher, Felix Hernandez. Hernandez avoided arbitration with a $78 million, five-year deal with Seattle. Verlander, 65-43 in his career with a 3.92 ERA, turns 27 this month. Hernandez (58-41, 3.45 ERA) will be 24 in April.
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