The Dodgers will be given the opportunity to make Clayton Kershaw the first $200 million pitcher this coming season, and may couple the signing with that of Justin Verlander when he hits free agency in 2015.
OK, so the reality doesn’t sound likely. After all, the Dodgers have seen countless players sign long-term extensions to stay with their respective teams.
The Reds’ Joey Votto signed a massive 13-year/$263 million contract, a contract that takes him to age 39 in 2023 with a team option for the 2024 season.
That was followed by the Mets’ David Wright signing an extension that would ultimately make his contract a 14-year/$192 million deal that is set to culminate in 2020, when Wright is 37.
Now we’re talking Verlander, 30 in a week, here, the arm that is always in the conversation as being the best in baseball; right up there with Kershaw.
He will be 32 at the start of Opening Day 2015, and likely will be coming off of one of the most hotly contested free agency sweepstakes in baseball history.
Will Verlander Test Free Agency in 2015?
It’s fairly certain that he would. Verlander told Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com that he’s happy with where he’s at:
“If they want to start talks, I’m happy,” Verlander told Morosi Tuesday. “I’ve got ears open. But I feel good. I feel healthy. I love where I’m at, at this age. I’m not worried about anything going forward.”
A man of such intellect will understand that he will be able to chalk up any price he desires to play wherever he wants.
Morosi mentions the Dodgers and Yankees as teams that might want to guarantee financial stability to chase Verlander.
Verlander was the second pick in the 2004 draft (behind only Matt Bush, drafted by the Padres), so he is no stranger to being pursued by several teams.
He comes off a campaign two seasons ago in which he not only was the AL Cy Young winner, but also the MVP for the league, boasting a 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA.
Last season wasn’t so shabby either — a 17-8 record and a 2.64 ERA, which was good enough to finish second in the Cy Young award voting, falling behind the Rays’ David Price.
But imagine in a National League ballpark?
Really, Why Won’t He Just Extend in Detroit Now?
It’s simple. He doesn’t have to. Let’s re-visit the earlier quote given to Morosi.
Verlander loves where he’s at. At 29 years old he isn’t thinking about a future, he wants to enjoy the day and seize the moment. He wants to test free agency for what is likely to be the only time in his career.
While the Tigers have the pieces to win the World Series now, it’s hard to argue that he won’t like playing in New York or Los Angeles better.
By time the 2015 season approaches, the Dodgers may be looking at a different looking team.
Players such as Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu could be household names, but also the key to obtaining a player like Verlander.
As much as fans would love for the Dodgers to have an unlimited pocketbook, it’s absolutely not possible.
Thus, Puig could spell Andre Ethier in right field in the very near future, ridding the Dodgers of roughly $18 million per season.
Also hitting free agency in 2015 is Chad Billingsley, whose contract will alleviate another $14 million from the Dodgers’ payroll.
With $32 million coming off the books in a breeze, the Dodgers could easily find a way to bring Verlander to Los Angeles.
Begin the speculation now, but proceed with caution. We’ve been through this before.
Just last season it appeared that Cole Hamels of the Phillies was destined to return home to Southern California and become a Dodger. However, he extended with Philadelphia. Still, it was OK though as the Dodgers took the next best pitcher, signing Zack Greinke to a 6-year/$159 million contract.
I’ll leave you with this thought.
In a playoff series in 2015 we are talking about a three-man rotation of: Kershaw, Verlander and Greinke.