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.

The Giants are considering Pablo Sandoval at second base

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Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.

It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.

Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.