|Justin Verlander's contract is looming for Tigers|
Justin Verlander has said he wants to be apart of the Detroit Tigers long term future. He also wants to be the first $200 million dollar pitcher.
"Of course," he told Yahoo! Sports on Friday morning. "I don't play this game to make the most money. But I do feel like it would be nice to be compensated for what I feel like I've been: one of the best, if not the best, the last few years. In my career, I feel like I've been one of the top. But the last two years, I've kind of separated myself, me and a handful of other guys.
"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 reiterated that "free agency is really cool," but made it clear in his interview "I don't think you have to be a free agent to get $200 million," an indication of his preference to stay with the Detroit Tigers.
Verlander, now 30 years old, has spent his entire career with the Tigers since being drafted with the 2nd pick of the 2004 amateur draft.
"I think free agency is really cool and would be a great experience," Verlander said. "I would like to experience it, to be honest with you. But if Detroit comes along and says, 'Hey, here's an offer you can't turn down,' I'm not going to turn it down."
The price tag on Verlander certainly grew when fellow pitcher, and former Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez received a 7 year $175 million dollar deal. Hernandez, who turns 27 in April, and Verlander has separated themselves among the very best pitchers in the American League.
The past two seasons, including his 2011 American League MVP award, Cy Young and 2012 Cy Young runner up seasons, Verlander leads baseball in innings (489 1/3), wins (41), strikeouts (489), ERA+ (166) and opponent batting average (.205). He is second to Clayton Kershaw in ERA (2.52) and opponent OPS (.578).
"I'm not just going to sit here and say yes to anything," Verlander said. "The risk-reward when you get to a year is intriguing. Me going into the free agent market as long as I pitch the way I have?
"I've gotten conflicting stories out there, and it's because I've said conflicting things. I've come out and said I love Detroit, love the idea of playing my entire career in Detroit, and I do. But also free agency is a cool idea. I can see how it came across as a mixed message."
The Tigers have tough decisions upcoming with Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Verlanders contracts looming the next two seasons. They would be smart to keep the best pitcher in all of baseball in the 'D.