NEW YORK – After leading their teams to last year’s World Series, Justin Verlander and Buster Posey cashed in just hours apart Friday.
The All-Star pitcher and MVP catcher were guaranteed nearly $350 million in contracts by the Tigers and Giants, a sure sign of the baseball times: Teams are awash with revenue from television and high-priced tickets.
Verlander, an AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner for Detroit, agreed to a $180 million, seven-year deal with the Tigers that is the richest for a pitcher and prevents him from becoming a free agent after the 2014 season.
Posey, the batting champion who led San Francisco to two World Series titles in the last three years, received $167 million, nine-year deal from the Giants. He could not have gone on the market until after the 2016 season.
Contracts like that that you’re seeing are a product of really strong revenue growth in the industry, said Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of economics and league affairs.
And the spending might not be done yet.
Clayton Kershaw, who can go free after the 2014 season, could get a new deal from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Where is all the money coming from?
Commissioner Bud Selig expects revenue to top $8 billion for the first time this year.
MLB last year agreed to eight-year contracts with News Corp’s Fox and with Turner Sports that run from 2014 to 2021 and increase average annual revenue from about $500 million to roughly $800 million. ESPN and MLB reached a deal covering 2014-21 that increases the average yearly payment from about $360 million to about $700 million.
And then there are local deals. The Dodgers are creating a cable network with Time Warner that assures the team more than $7 billion over 25 years.
News Corp. is paying the Yankees’ owners $500 million as part of a deal that could allow it up to 80 percent ownership of the YES Network.
Teams are rushing to lock up prized players. For the Giants, the homegrown talent is especially valuable.
When you have your own player, you’re successful with your own player, he’s test driven you and you’ve test driven him, it takes a lot of the risk out of the business to be able to go forward, Giants CEO Larry Baer said.
St. Louis this week gave pitcher Adam Wainwright a $97.5 million deal covering 2014-18 that raises his guaranteed income to $109.5 million over the next six seasons. Arizona is nearing agreement with Paul Goldschmidt on a $32 million, five-year deal that would run from 2014 to 2018. He has less than 1 1/2 years in the big leagues.
Verlander’s deal broke the standard for pitchers set last month when Seattle’s Felix Hernandez signed a $175 million, seven-year deal.
I wondered what it would be like to test free agency, but the pull of Detroit was too much, said Verlander, 30, who could have become a free agent after the 2014 season. Once spring training started, I knew I wanted to stay.
Verlander’s deal keeps his $20 million salaries for each of the next two seasons and adds $140 million in guaranteed money: $28 million each season 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.
Posey’s deal includes a club option for 2022 that could raise the value to $186 million over a decade.