NEW YORK (AP) — After leading their teams to last year’s World Series, Justin Verlander and Buster Posey cashed in just hours apart Friday.
The All-Star pitcher and MVP catcher were guaranteed nearly $350 million in contracts by the Tigers and Giants, a sure sign of the baseball times: Teams are awash with revenue from television and high-priced tickets.
Verlander, an AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner for Detroit, agreed to a $180 million, seven-year deal with the Tigers that is the richest for a pitcher and prevents him from becoming a free agent after the 2014 season.
Posey, the batting champion who led San Francisco to a pair of World Series titles in the last three years, received $167 million, nine-year deal from the Giants. The catcher could not have gone on the market until after the 2016 season.
“Contracts like that that you’re seeing are a product of really strong revenue growth in the industry,” said Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of economics and league affairs.
And the spending might not be done yet.
Clayton Kershaw, who can go free after the 2014 season, could get a new deal from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2011 NL Cy Young winner said he won’t talk contract during the season; the Dodgers would want to hold off announcing any agreement until after opening day so that it would not add to their 2013 luxury tax bill.
Where is all the money coming from?
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig expects revenue to top $8 billion for the first time this year.
“It’s quite a story when you think back in 1992 it was $1.2 billion,” he said this week. “We’ve come a long way. It’s a manifestation of how popular this sport is in every way.”
MLB last year agreed to eight-year contracts with News Corp’s Fox and with Turner Sports that run from 2014-21 and increase average annual revenue from about $500 million to roughly $800 million. ESPN and MLB reached a deal covering 2014-21 that hikes the average yearly payment from about $360 million to approximately $700 million.