There was talk yesterday that Justin Verlander wants to stay a Detroit Tiger for life. I buy that. He has it pretty good there, is well-loved and every indication we’ve ever had suggests that the Tigers would be willing to pay the man what he’s due when he hits free agency following the 2014 season.
That said, he’s not afraid of free agency at all. Indeed, he sounds downright giddy at the prospect. From Jon Morosi’s story, here’s Verlander’s response when asked if he’s curious about hitting the market:
“Absolutely. I think that’d be a blast. If I have two more years like I just had, it would be pretty interesting … You know how competitive I am. It’s kind of fun thinking about having teams battle for you.”
This means very little with specific respect to where Justin Verlander will be playing after 2014. But so too do pronouncements about wanting to remain a Tiger for life, even if Tigers fans will read a lot into the latter.
It’s a business. Always has been, always will be.
Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.
After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.
With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.