LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander casually mentioned in January how cool it would be to spend his entire career in a Tigers uniform. He took one big step toward doing that on Friday.
The Tigers, meanwhile, took care of their biggest contract question for the rest of the decade. With a five-year contract extension, they can keep Verlander in a Detroit uniform through at least 2019, and perhaps through 2020.
Terms of the contract were not revealed by the Tigers. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that Verlander will make $28 million each season from 2015-19, the years of the extension. A vesting option for 2020 is reportedly worth $22 million.
The $28 million a year will make Verlander the highest-paid pitcher on an annual basis, eclipsing the $25 million per year in the seven-year, $175 million extension Felix Hernandez signed with Seattle in February.
Verlander has two years remaining on the five-year, $79.5 million contract he signed after the 2009 season. He will make $20 million in each of those seasons.
Add those two seasons, with the reported terms of the extension, including the option, and Verlander would be baseball's first $200 million pitcher.
Verlander, 30, went 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 33 starts last season, topping the American League with six complete games, 238 1/3 innings pitched and 239 strikeouts. He won the AL Most Valuable Player Award and the AL Cy Young Award in 2011, becoming the 10th pitcher in Major League history to win both the MVP and Cy Young Awards in the same season.
A five-time All-Star, Verlander is 124-65 with a 3.40 ERA in his big league career, which began with two starts in 2005. He is scheduled to start on Opening Day in Minnesota on Monday, marking the sixth straight season (2008-13) he has been tabbed the club's Opening Day starter by manager Jim Leyland. It will mark the longest such streak by a Tigers pitcher since Jack Morris started 11 straight Opening Days from 1980-90.
"Justin is one of the premier pitchers in baseball and we are thrilled to keep him in a Tigers uniform for many years to come," Tigers president, CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Justin has been a Tiger for his entire career and he is on pace to be one of the greatest pitchers in this illustrious franchise's history."
Though Verlander brushed off any sense of urgency about getting an extension done this spring, he made it clear last week that he didn't want to negotiate during the season. With next season being the final year on his contract, he would have been close enough to free agency that he might have been tempted to test the open market.
The extension takes that out of the question.