Verlander tells Yahoo! Sports he wants to be first $200 million pitcher

(WXYZ) - Justin Verlander has two years left on his contract, but it's no secret: the Tigers and their ace want to have a longer future together.

The 30-year old told Yahoo! Sports in an interview he wants to be the first $200 million pitcher.

"I don't play this game to make the most money. But I do feel like it would be nice to be compensated for what I feel like I've been: one of the best, if not the best, the last few years," Verlander told Yahoo! Sports.

Now, understand he didn't pull that number out of thin air. Many who saw the contract Felix Hernandez got from the Seattle Mariners, a seven-year, $175 million deal, and realized what was next.

"It's not a thing where I'm like, 'Hey, I want to be the highest-paid player,' where that's the chief goal. It innately comes with my competitiveness. That's just me," he said in the interview.

Verlander won the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards in 2011, and came just short of winning his second consecutive Cy Young honor last season. In eight seasons with Detroit, the right-hander has compiled a 124-65 record with a 3.40 ERA.

"In my career, I feel like I've been one of the top. But the last two years, I've kind of separated myself, me and a handful of other guys," he said.

He's clearly at, or at least very near the top of the game, and there's no doubt teams will come calling if the final two years of his five-year, $80 million contract run out and he hits the open market.

"I think free agency is really cool and would be a great experience. I would like to experience it, to be honest with you. But if Detroit comes along and says, 'Hey, here's an offer you can't turn down,' I'm not going to turn it down," he explained to Yahoo!

Verlander addressed the quotes he had for reporters at the beginning of Spring Training. He said free agency would be a "cool idea," and he wouldn't accept "just any offer'' from the Tigers. But the Yahoo! article closes with an edited Verlander quote Tigers fans will enjoy reading.

"I [expletive] love Detroit."

You can read the full article here.

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli.

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