Verlander, Posey get $347 million in new deals

After leading their teams to last year’s World Series, Justin
Verlander and Buster Posey cashed in just hours apart Friday.

The All-Star pitcher and MVP catcher were guaranteed nearly $350
million in contracts by the Tigers and Giants, a sure sign of the
baseball times: Teams are awash with revenue from television and
high-priced tickets.

Verlander, an AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner for Detroit,
agreed to a $180 million, seven-year deal with the Tigers that is
the richest for a pitcher and prevents him from becoming a free
agent after the 2014 season.

Posey, the batting champion who led San Francisco to a pair of
World Series titles in the last three years, received $167 million,
nine-year deal from the Giants. The catcher could not have gone on
the market until after the 2016 season.

”Contracts like that that you’re seeing are a product of really
strong revenue growth in the industry,” said Rob Manfred, Major
League Baseball’s executive vice president of economics and league
affairs.

And the spending might not be done yet.

Clayton Kershaw, who can go free after the 2014 season, could
get a new deal from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2011 NL Cy Young
winner said he won’t talk contract during the season; the Dodgers
would want to hold off announcing any agreement until after opening
day so that it would not add to their 2013 luxury tax bill.

Where is all the money coming from?

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig expects revenue to top $8
billion for the first time this year.

”It’s quite a story when you think back in 1992 it was $1.2
billion,” he said this week. ”We’ve come a long way. It’s a
manifestation of how popular this sport is in every way.”

MLB last year agreed to eight-year contracts with News Corp’s
Fox and with Turner Sports that run from 2014-21 and increase
average annual revenue from about $500 million to roughly $800
million. ESPN and MLB reached a deal covering 2014-21 that hikes
the average yearly payment from about $360 million to approximately
$700 million.

And then there are big-money local deals. The Dodgers are
creating a cable network with Time Warner Cable that assures the
team more than $7 billion over 25 years. News Corp. is paying the
Yankees’ owners $500 million as part of a deal that could allow it
up to 80 percent ownership of the YES Network.

Teams are rushing to lock up prized players. For the Giants, the
homegrown talent is especially valuable.

”When you have your own player, you’re successful with your own
player, he’s test driven you and you’ve test driven him, it takes a
lot of the risk out of the business to be able to go forward,”
Giants CEO Larry Baer said.

”It also makes forming your team a lot easier because you know
the plusses and minuses, in Buster’s case, there aren’t a lot of
minuses. You know who these guys are, you know some of the X
factors. A lot of times when you get a free agent, you don’t know
the X factors, whether it’s work ethic or character. So, I think
it’s going to be a continuing trend that teams try to lock up their
own players as much as possible,” he said.

Earlier this week, St. Louis gave pitcher Adam Wainwright, a
$97.5 million deal covering 2014-18 that raises his guaranteed
income to $109.5 million over the next six seasons. At a lower
level, Arizona is nearing agreement with Paul Goldschmidt on a $32
million, five-year contract that would run from 2014-18. The first
baseman has less than 1 1/2 years in the big leagues.

”It’s good to see these players are getting tied up with their
club. It’s the way it used to be,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy
said. ”I know growing up when you were playing on a team they
pretty much had the same core players, and it seems like it’s going
that way again with the long-term contracts.”

Verlander’s deal broke the standard for pitchers set just a
month earlier when Seattle’s Felix Hernandez agreed to a $175
million, seven-year contract. The 30-year-old right-hander didn’t
feel a need to wait two seasons, become a free agent and find out
how much baseball’s biggest spenders would offer.

”I wondered what it would be like to test free agency, but the
pull of Detroit was too much,” he said. ”Once spring training
started I knew I wanted to stay.”

Verlander’s deal keeps his $20 million salaries for each of the
next two seasons and adds $140 million in guaranteed money: $28
million each season from 2015-19. It includes a $22 million option
for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he finishes among the top
five in 2019 Cy Young voting. The deal could be worth $202 million
over eight seasons.

Posey’s deal includes a club option for 2022 that could raise
the value to $186 million over a decade.

He had been due to make $8 million this year. Instead, the
26-year-old gets a $7 million signing bonus, with $5 million
payable Oct. 15 and the remainder Jan. 15, and his 2013 salary is
reduced to $3 million.

He will make $10.5 million in 2014, $16.5 million in 2015, $20
million in 2016 and $21.4 million in each of the following five
seasons. The Giants’ option is for $22 million with a $3 million
buyout.

”You have to have the right player to do that,” said CAA
Baseball agent Jeff Berry, who handled Posey’s contract and Matt
Cain’s $127.5 million, six-year deal last spring. ”That’s the key
to it.”

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco and AP
freelance writer Jeff Berlinicke in Lakeland, Fla., contributed to
this report.