By Greg Bowman
In the end, the Tigers didn’t really have much of a choice. They had to give their pitching ace Justin Verlander the richest contract ever awarded to a pitcher in Major League Baseball History. If they didn’t do it now, they faced the prospect of losing Verlander to free agency after next season, or being forced into a bidding war where they might have had to pay even more for him.
The Tigers gave Verlander a five-year extension through 2019, worth 140 million. That ís on top of the 40 million he ís already owed for the next two seasons. And the deal includes an option for 2020, which would pay him another 20 million. That adds up to a hefty package worth more than 200 million dollars over the next seven seasons.
Is he worth that much money? For families struggling to make it on 50 thousand dollars a year, it seems ridiculous that someone should be paid about 76 thousand dollars per DAY just because he can throw a baseball 100 miles an hour. And that is for a player who only performs every fifth day. But someone is only worth what the market will bear. And if Mike Illitch or any other team owner is willing to shell out that kind of money, then more power to Verlander.
We have to remember that baseball is a multi-billion dollar business. And teams wouldn’t be paying Verlander and other star players these kinds of salaries if they didn’t think it would pay off in higher attendance, souvenir sales, and rich TV contracts. Will fans resent it? I doubt it, at least as long as Verlander continues to be among the top five pitchers in baseball. I doubt that you cared about how much Anne Hathaway or Leonardo DeCaprio made for their latest movie. You were watching for their performance: Did they excel; did they move you; did they thrill and excite you? And if you liked what you saw, you probably didní’t mind paying the 10 bucks for a ticket and almost that much for popcorn. We’ll have to wait and see if the price of hot dogs goes up at Comerica Park to pay for JV ís contract.
So far, Verlander has been one of the most consistent and reliable pitchers in the Major Leagues. Let’s hope that keeps up for the rest of the contact. The Yankees are paying the price now for A-Rod’s long-term deal, which really hurts now that he is only a shadow of the superstar player he once was. And this is not the Tigers’ first 200 million dollar contract; they already gave one to Prince Fielder last season, in a nine-year contract.
But enough money talk. Baseball is still what matters. And I can’t wait for the Tigers to open the season on Monday in Minnesota. It’s been a long, cold winter. The Tigers have their eye on the World Series Prize again this fall. And this time, they won’t be satisfied until they come home with the World Series Trophy.