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Verlander signs baseball's biggest contract with Tigers

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 6:20 p.m. CDT

(MCT) LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers have agreed to a five-year contract extension with Justin Verlander through 2019, with a vesting option for the 2020 season.

ESPN reports that the deal is worth $180 million _ or $202 million if the 2020 season is in play.

"I love this city & the fans _ couldn't be more excited to spend my career here!" Verlander tweeted shortly after the announcement. "We're going to bring a World Series to Detroit!!!"

The contract is the richest ever for a pitcher, surpassing Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who signed for seven years and $175 million in February. But some expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to give even more to Clayton Kershaw soon.

The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner had been signed through 2014, under an $80-million, five-year contract paying him $20 million in each of the next two seasons. His new deal will start in 2015.

The new deal keeps those salaries and adds $140 million in guaranteed money: $28 million each season from 2015-19. It includes a $22-million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he finishes among the top five in 2019 Cy Young voting. The deal could be worth $202 million over eight seasons.

The announcement was made before the Tigers played their final home game of spring training on Friday, against the Tampa Bay Rays.

"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," general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a released statement. "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."

Verlander, 30, was 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings last season. He led the American League in innings pitched, strikeouts and complete games (six).

Verlander is a five-time American League All-Star (2007, 2009-2012) and has a career record of 124-65 with a 3.40 ERA and 1,454 strikeouts in 232 starts.

He was AL rookie of the year in 2006 and joined Don Newcombe as the second player in history to win the MVP, Cy Young and rookie-of-the-year awards.

Verlander previously said he would not negotiate once the regular season started. He will be the Tigers' starter when they open the season Monday at Minnesota.

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