Money is no object when it comes to a team locking up its star player long-term. Just look at the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants.
Written by Jim Mancari
Published: 04 April 2013
The Tigers locked up ace Justin Verlander for seven years and $180 million and added a vesting option that would bring the value of the deal over $200 million. Meanwhile, the Giants worked out a nine-year deal for Buster Posey for $167 million with an club option that brings the deal to $186 million over 10 years.
Both deals are well deserved, but the Verlander deal may wind up being a better long-term investment.
Justin Verlander down in Spring Training
Verlander turned 30 this past offseason and has already won a Cy Young Award and MVP in the same season and has earned five All-Star appearances. He’s clearly the most dominant pitcher in the game right now, and the Tigers will pay him accordingly.
The Tigers made this investment based on not only Verlander’s talent but also based on the team he has around him. The makings of a dynasty have been planted in Detroit, with Miguel Cabrera signed through 2015 and Prince Fielder and Verlander signed through 2020.
Baseball is a team game, but these three players on the same team consistently performing equals championships. The Tigers came close last year, and don’t be surprised if they have plenty more opportunities over the duration of Verlander’s contract.
As for Posey, he is definitely worth his contract -- for now. Aside from the freak injury in 2011, he has been one of the game’s most productive offensive players, and more importantly, he’s shown he can maintain his performance in the postseason. Not many players in the game’s history can say that they’ve won two World Series titles in their first three seasons, but Posey can.
Posey is 26, so there’s a chance that his recent deal will be his last mega-contract. But with all that money invested, it’s almost certain that Posey will become a regular first baseman, despite his solid defensive skills behind the plate.
A crushing injury can happen at any time to any player giving maximum effort, but as the Giants saw firsthand, the odds are increased for catchers.
The problem with the Posey deal relative to the Verlander deal is that the sample size is so small with Posey. He has only two healthy seasons under his belt, and while he won championships those years, that sort of deal for just two years' experience is unprecedented.
Posey would have still been under team control for another three years through arbitration, but instead the team chose to buy out those years with the long-term contract.
It’s an unfortunate fact that catchers deteriorate faster than other position players. So if the Giants wanted to lock Posey up through his arbitration years, the team could have attempted to negotiate a four- or five-year deal with a higher base salary.
In that way, he’d still get paid the big bucks, but the team would not be on the hook for nine years, especially if another injury occurred. If Posey proved his worth, the Giants could then negotiate another four-plus-year contract at that time.
As far as what these two deals mean for the sport, we again might see another huge contract handed out in the form of the Los Angeles Dodgers extended stud lefty Clayton Kershaw.
He’s only 25 and already has an impressive resume. In fact, after tossing a complete-game shutout and hitting a home run on Opening Day, it’s surprising that the Dodgers didn’t just lock him up to an extension after the game.
Kershaw is in line for a deal worth well over $200 million in guaranteed money. And given the way the Dodgers have thrown around money lately, that shouldn’t be a problem.
A ton of money has been handed out in the game recently, and the parent teams are obviously aware of one simple fact: If you don’t pay your homegrown superstars handsomely, someone else will.