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.

Bryce Harper is pandering hard to Philly fans

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Bryce Harper hadn’t even addressed his new hometown fans before his Phillies jersey started selling like hotcakes. Since then, he’s said all the expected things. Talking about joining the Phillies, he said, “From day one, it felt right … I always talk about family and being a family, being one unit, and I get that from this team. Every guy has your back and vice versa. I’m very excited to go into battle with these guys.”

Harper is continuing to pander hard to Phillies fans. Behold his latest Instagram post:

Has anyone ever really longed to see the Liberty Bell?

Harper also famously recreated that Chase Utley scene from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with actor Rob McElhenney on Twitter:

In Harper’s next post, he will talk about alternating bottles of You-eng-ling beers with glasses of “wooder.” He’ll add that every so often he will treat himself to a steak sandwich with cheese on it, then go home to watch all of the movies in the Rocky series.