Earlier today Justin Verlander teased some big news that was on the way. Soon after, Tigers PR man Brian Britten came through with this:
— Brian Britten (@BBritten_Tigers) March 29, 2013
Indeed this is big news, for both Verlander and the Tigers. For Verlander? Well, not that he was hurting financially before (he made $20 million last season), but this new extension should set him up even more nicely – Verlander will make $20 million per year over the next couple seasons, then $28 million each season from 2015 through 2019. There’s also a vesting option for 2020 (here are some other examples of players with vesting options in their contracts) which, if reached, would pay Verlander $22 million that season. So his deal is either 7 years, $180 million or eight years, $202 million: either way, no pitcher in MLB history has ever been better-compensated.
For the Tigers, it’s big because, well, Verlander is really good. He’s always been good, but he’s taken himself to a different level the last two seasons, winning the rare dual Cy Young/MVP in 2011, finishing second in the voting last year, and leading the AL in adjusted ERA, innings, and strikeouts in each of the last two seasons. He’s 30, so he has plenty of outstanding seasons left in him, and while he’ll almost certainly be in decline by the end of the deal, 1) a mild-to-moderately declining Verlander is better than most pitchers’ peak, and 2) these huge contracts always feature insane money at the end. It’s the cost of doing business – in the Tigers’ case, keeping together a pennant-winning team.
And on the heels of that news, the team that beat the Tigers to win the 2012 World Series took a huge step toward maintaining its own spot at the top of baseball – the Giants and reigning NL MVP catcher Buster Posey agreed to a nine-year, $167 million deal, the longest ever for a catcher. Posey just turned 26 this week (so, uh, nice belated birthday present there), so the contract length wouldn’t seem to be much of an issue… but remember, he’s a catcher. Playing catcher is a slow form of murder on one’s own knees, so while Posey’s best years may be ahead of him, by the time this deal is up, they’ll probably be behind him.
Still, a catcher who hits like Posey does is one of the rarest players in baseball, and considering it took the Twins $184 million to lock up Joe Mauer long-term, the Giants did okay. The issue with Mauer, of course, is that while he remains a very good offensive player when healthy, he’s never quite approached his 2009 MVP numbers, his injury issues are serious enough that he hasn’t caught more than 100 games since 2010, and he’s only worth the kind of money he’s being paid if he’s catching. The Giants have to hope Posey holds up better… and that he can sustain, and maybe even improve, his power numbers, which Mauer never did post-’09.
Regardless of how the contracts turn out for all involved, though, that they’re being signed is big news – that they’re happening on the same day, even bigger. And to commemorate the news, the Tigers and Giants each posted photos to their Twitter accounts. And the photos… well, they reminded us that as big as the news might be, it’s not the kind of news that translates to a visual medium very well. Here’s what the Tigers offered up:
And the future of the Tigers’ franchise is sealed with all the pomp and circumstance of… a guy in a baseball cap and t-shirt signing his name on a piece of paper. (h/t HardballTalk on that one.) Not to be outdone, the Giants posted a photo of their own. They didn’t go with the contract-signing itself (good move, probably!), but here’s what they did post:
Come on, Giants. You know a bunch of wealthy well-dressed guys in a room together is only entertaining when we’re talking about Mad Men. Congrats, though. And now we’re gonna stop looking at these photos so we don’t have to lie down and take a nap.