Justin Verlander has signed a five-year extension which will keep him with the Tigers through 2019. The flamethrowing ace stands to make $180 million over that period, with a $22 million vesting option for 2020. That makes this the most lucrative contract ever offered to a pitcher.
The reverberations of this deal will be felt throughout the league, including in Boston. A new high bar has been set, putting an exclamation mark on what was already an offseason of excess. For the Red Sox, the first name on everyone's mind will be Jon Lester. While the pitcher is coming off a poor 2012, he's been dominant in spring, and seems ready to build himself back up as one of baseball's best. He's not Justin Verlander, but a deal like this has a trickle-down effect, if you'll pardon the loaded term.
While Lester has spent his entire career in Boston thus far, his current contract only runs through 2014, assuming Boston picks up his option year. The Red Sox have recently rededicated themselves to responsible spending, but that doesn't exclude big-money extensions and signings. Still, with the Tigers having set the market so very high, one has to wonder How willing Boston will be to keep up with a pitcher who will, by then, be on the wrong side of thirty.
Moving beyond Lester, though, there's some nice upside to this from a divisional standpoint. While Verlander will continue to be a bogeyman for American League hitters everywhere, we've seen the Yankees reigning in their spending recently, presumably in order to make a big push in the seasons to come. It's hard to imagine they would not have pursued Verlander if he hit the open market. Now with both Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander locked up, Clayton Kershaw is the last remaining member of the 2014 trio who might hit the open market. And I don't know if you've been paying attention recently, but the Dodgers have some deep pockets of their own.