Verlander, Tigers reach $80M extension

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According to the Associated Press, the Tigers have agreed to a five-year, $80 million extension with right-hander Justin Verlander.

The new deal will allow Verlander and the Tigers to avoid an arbitration hearing this year and will keep the ace in Detroit through the 2014 season.  It essentially covers his last two years of arbitration-eligibility and his first three years of free agency.

Verlander, 25, went 19-9 last season with a 3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and an
American League-leading 269 strikeouts.  He wound up with a more lucrative contract than 23-year-old Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who posted a 2.49 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and a career-high 19 wins last season then signed a five-year, $78 million extension this winter.

It’s pretty clear that Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik spun the better deal, but both contracts are worth celebrating.  For the next five seasons two top-notch, young pitchers will be allowed to do their thing in the AL Central and the AL West, and without the Yankees or Red Sox breathing down their necks with suitcases of cash.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.