Felix Hernandez wasn’t the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history for very long.
Justin Verlander signed a five-year contract extension with the Detroit Tigers Friday that will give him that distinction.
Verlander’s new deal includes a $28 million annual salary beginning with the 2015 season, multiple sources confirmed to FOXSports.com. Verlander is due $180 million over the next seven years, including preexisting $20 million salaries in each of the next two seasons.
That’s $5 million more than what Hernandez will earn during the same span. Including his prior contract, Hernandez agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Seattle Mariners last month.
Verlander, one year removed from winning the American League MVP and Cy Young awards, will be 36 when the guaranteed portion of the contract ends at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
Verlander’s contract also includes an option for the 2020 season worth $22 million that will vest automatically if he finishes in the top five of Cy Young Award voting in 2019. That would bring the deal’s total value to $202 million over eight years — and, depending upon how one interprets the numbers, give Verlander the chance to become baseball’s first $200 million pitcher.
Verlander’s deal will include no-trade protection, a source said. (He’s three seasons away from achieving full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player, anyway.) The contract also includes bonuses for MVP and Cy Young awards.
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw could be the next starting pitcher to sign a contract of a similar magnitude.