Detroit Tigers: 6 free agents to target following the 2021 season

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Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander
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The Detroit Tigers need to consider bringing back Justin Verlander.

Not only does Justin Verlander have a rich history with the Detroit Tigers, but he’s also won a World Series with A.J. Hinch as his manager.  Those two items may play a big factor in Verlander’s offseason decisions.

Verlander was initially drafted by the Tigers’ second overall out of Old Dominion back in 2004.  He spent 13 glorious seasons dawning the Old English D and has hinted in the past that it would make for a storybook ending to finish out his Hall Of Fame career back in Detroit.

The needle is pointing up for the Detroit Tigers, and they should be looking to add a middle of the rotation arm, preferably a veteran arm, to help support the likes of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning.

Some will point to Matthew Boyd or even Spencer Turnbull to be that veteran, but quite frankly, I’m all but done with Boyd, and Turnbull will miss all of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Adding Verlander does come with risks.  Verlander basically hasn’t pitched in two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery himself.  Aside from that, the veteran right-hander had been exceptionally durable throughout his career aside from a core injury a few years back in 2014.  That core injury lingered led to a 4.54 ERA, the worst of his career.  Over the winter of ’14, Verlander had surgery to repair the injury and returned with a vengeance in 2015, and completely returned to his old self in 2016.

Verlander last appeared in an MLB game on Opening Day of 2020, where he lasted six innings and struck out seven, leading the Astros to a victory.  The veteran right-hander turns 39-years old around the beginning of Spring Training next year and has not pitched for so long; I can’t help but wonder what kind of term and money Verlander will be looking for as a free agent.

I expect Verlander will be looking for another two-year deal.  He’s coming off a two-year agreement with Houston, which averaged a whopping $33 million per season.  Unfortunately for the Astros, Verlander had been limited to just one start during that extension.

Verlander may command somewhere around $20 million per season, considering the age and recent injury history.  To me, it still seems like a lot of money, but if he can channel anything near how he performed before the injury, it will end up being a bargain for the organization.

Verlander has a career record of 226-129 with an ERA of 3.33.  He’s made 454 starts accounting for 2,988 innings totaling a stellar 3,013 strikeouts.  He also owns a career WHIP of 1.134 and a FIP of 3.41.