Detroit Tigers: Blame game over Max Scherzer’s contract

There’s no denying that Detroit Tigers pitch Max Scherzer had a special year in 2013. Every day that the 29-year old took the mound he had the stuff to strike out whoever happened to be in the batter’s box. In Scherzer’s Cy Young-season he went 21-3, had an ERA of 2.90, and struck out 240 batters.

Scherzer, who is eligible for free agency next year, will make $15.5 million in 2014, a substantial increase from the $6.725 million he made last season.

Speculation surrounding the Tigers (and their interest in re-signing Scherzer), began following the trades that sent away Prince Fielder and Doug Fister; two moves that initially appeared to free up enough money to sign the reigning Cy Young-winner to a long-term extension, however, that wasn’t the case.

There was clearly a mutual interest between Scherzer and the Tigers to reach an extension, but talks didn’t seem to really heat up until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like a deal will be done before Scherzer becomes a free agent, let alone before the season begins.

At about 9 o’clock a.m. on Sunday morning, the Tigers made an announcement that came as a shock to most people:

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers statement via Twitter

It wasn’t necessarily the content of the statement that caught people off guard, but more so that the Tigers publicly made a comment concerning on-going contract negotiations, something Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski usually stays away from.

Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reported that the Tigers’ proposal to Scherzer was a 6-year deal worth $144 million, which would roughly break down to $24 million annually.

That offer comes just a year (almost to the day) after Detroit signed Justin Verlander to a seven-year deal worth $180 million. (See the details here)

Detroit’s statement must not have sat well with Scherzer. His agent, Scott Boras, later made his own statement on the situation, and the blame game ensued. (Via ESPN):

“Max Scherzer┬ámade a substantial long-term contract extension offer to the Detroit Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected by Detroit,” Boras said. “Max is very happy with the city of Detroit, the fans and his teammates, and we will continue negotiating with the Tigers at season’s end.”

It’s never a good situation when contract negotiations are made public, in fact, it’s an awful situation, especially when those public comments directly point fingers at the other side.

Detroit TigersHere’s how this situation could pan out, in no particular order:

1. The two sides agree to a deal before Opening Day (March 31).

2a. Negotiations begin in free agency. Scherzer’s numbers are significantly down and the asking price is reduced.

2b. Negotiations begin in free agency. Scherzer’s numbers are similar to last season (or better if possible), now the asking price is increased. Not only the asking price, but the teams that are interested in him also increase.

3. There is no deal in place and the Tigers season falls apart before the trade deadline on July 31. The Tigers then deal Scherzer for prospects.

4. The Tigers are presented with an interesting offer for Scherzer. Scherzer is then traded to improve the Tigers’ chances of winning this season and in the future.

Anything can happen with this situation moving forward, but for now it seems to be a sticky situation, not a good sign for Tigers fans.

Let’s not forget that Miguel Cabrera, the best hitter on the planet, is scheduled to be a free agent following the 2015 season.

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