Competition is an interesting thing. It can drive success or it can cause disaster. When harnessed properly, a competitive spirit can create something nearly otherworldly. Enter Justin Verlander. The Detroit Tigers' ace knows how good he is, knows how hard it is to be that good, and knows how hard he's worked. And he wants to be paid for his hard work and performance.
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According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Verlander wants to be the highest-paid pitcher in history. This is not a greed thing, it would seem. This is simply another aspect of Verlander's competitive spirit. If he feels he's better than every other pitcher out there, Verlander wants to be paid as such. So, he's looking for $200 million.
"It's not a thing where I'm like, 'Hey, I want to be the highest-paid player,' where that's the chief goal. It innately comes with my competitiveness. That's just me. That's not why I play the game. I'm good at the game because of that side of me, because I'm competitive at everything I do."
Verlander believes he can make his money with the Tigers. And he's probably right.
The Detroit Tigers have been inching closer and closer to Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees territory over the last few years. They paid over $132 million in salary last season. They paid over $105 million in 2011. And they paid over $122 million in 2010. It may not be fair to average these numbers and say this is where the Tigers should be going forward, but I'm going to do it anyway.
So, the Tigers can and should be operating right at about $120 million per season. If Verlander was given a 10-year extension, which seems to be the new thing in baseball, he could get to $200 million with an average annual salary of $20 million. That would leave the Tigers a healthy $100 million in payroll to spend elsewhere - like on Prince Fielder. But what if the Tigers don't want to commit ten years to a player who is already 30-years-old?
If Detroit were to give Verlander an eight-year extension, they'd have to pay him $25 million annually. Which is still a fair amount for the best pitcher in the game. And at $25 million per year, the Tigers could still spend an additional $95 million on the rest of their players.
The fact is, Justin Verlander is on pace to be one of, if not the, best pitchers in MLB history and Detroit Tigers history (hyperbole? I don't think so). He will get paid, so the Tigers have little choice but to open their wallets. They can afford it, and Verlander probably deserves it.
Although, talking money in baseball is like talking Monopoly money. It's all fake to me.