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The deal, which begins this season and lasts through 2021, is worth $66 million. At $33 million per year, the extension makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in MLB in terms of annual average value (AAV). The Astros ace would have become a free agent at the end of the 2019 season.
“Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement announcing the deal. “His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years.”
The only other player in MLB to have a higher per-year salary is Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout, who recently signed a 12-year, $430 million contract – the biggest contract in professional sports history. Trout, who would have become a free agent following the 2020 season, has an average annual salary of $36 million.
Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA last season, tallied a league-leading 290 strikeouts in 34 starts and finished second in voting for the Cy Young Award. He won the award in 2011 with the Detroit Tigers. The right-hander also helped the Astros win the team’s first World Series title in 2017 after being traded from the Detroit.