Many local outlets are reporting that the difference in salary figures presented for arbitration between the Tigers and Justin Verlander is nearly $3 million for the 2010 season. The 19-game winner presented a salary of $9.5 million, while the team he has toiled for presented a more frugal $6.9 million. With Dave Dombrowski proud of his arbitration-free record, and following Felix Hernandez’s multi-year deal, it is time now to seal up Verlander for at least five years.
The issue for Justin Verlander and his supporters is that he is looking for big money from a team still feeling the impact of long-term deals that didn’t pan out. Based on history, it is hard to blame the Tigers for looking to lock up Nate Robertson, Brandon Inge and Dontrelle Willis when they had the opportunity. In the case of Nate and Brandon, these deals followed a 2006 run to the World Series and it was important to have this known talent stay at Comerica Park. While pitching arms are extremely fragile, Verlander is a real force on the mound, something the Tigers haven’t really had since Jack Morris.
If I’m Dave Dombrowski in this situation, I give Justin a deal that is considerably more front-loaded than the Felix Hernandez deal, though containing many of the same components. If the Tigers were to find themselves in 2013 with needing to dump an ailing Verlander from the squad, they cannot have a series of years at $20 million/year hanging over their heads. Though he cannot seek free agency for two more years, it must be a priority for Tigers management to make this pitcher happy so his performance does not suffer where it matters most – on the mound.