It was seven springs ago, in 2006, when a new Tigers manager decided to roll with Justin Verlander as part of Detroit's revamped baseball cast. Jim Leyland had it right. His kid right-hander grew into a man now considered the top pitcher in baseball, with a paycheck to match, after Verlander on Friday signed an extension that could keep him in Detroit through 2020 and pay him $202 million over that eight-season span. The contract, which guarantees $180 million over seven seasons, is the largest given to a pitcher. "I wasn't shy about saying I wanted to spend my career here," Verlander said, standing outside the Tigers clubhouse Friday alongside Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers president and general manager. "It's tough to say how much I love Detroit. I was drafted by the Tigers, and I've grown up in front of these fans who are the best fans in baseball. We're kindred spirits." Verlander was looking at possible free agency following the 2014 season. He will now make an additional $140 million through 2019. Finishing in the top five of Cy Young Award voting in 2019 will trigger a vesting option guaranteeing Verlander a 2020 contract for $22 million. That potential five-season extension could pay Verlander an extra $162 million. He will make the same money in 2013 and 2014 as was guaranteed under his previous contract, $20 million each season, but because of structural changes, the contract is technically considered a seven-year deal. "It's a big day for us," said Dombrowski, who had gotten the go-ahead from Tigers owner Mike Ilitch to extend Verlander. "We're looking at Justin as having a chance to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, pitchers in Tigers history."