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Tigers' Scherzer rejects long-term contract extension

The SportsXchange

The Detroit Tigers announced Sunday that talks with reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer have ended on a contract extension and won't resume during the season.

The announcement essentially guarantees Scherzer will become a free agent at season's end.

General manager Dave Dombrowski spoke with reporters Sunday morning saying that Scherzer was given a "substantial offer." Once that offer was declined, the two sides agreed to end talks for the spring.

The Tigers released a statement:

"The Detroit Tigers have made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Max Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected. As we have reiterated, it has been the organization's intent to extend Max's contract and keep him in a Tigers uniform well beyond the 2014 season. "While this offer would have accomplished that, the ballclub's focus remains on the start of the upcoming season, and competing for a World Championship. Moving forward there will be no further in-season negotiation and the organization will refrain from commenting on this matter."

Dombrowski had been in negotiations with agent Scott Boras, who also represents injured shortstop Jose Iglesias and free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, a much-rumored option as Iglesias' replacement.

Dombrowski would not get into the terms that were discussed, other than it would have put Scherzer among the top pitchers in the game.

"We probably negotiated more and gave some things that we thought would get deals done that didn't get it done," he said.

A source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the Tigers' offer to Scherzer was for a slightly lower figure than the $25.7 million per year that Justin Verlander received in the extension he signed last spring, but still would have placed Scherzer among the top six highest-paid pitchers in baseball by average annual value of the deal.

That would mean the offer would have averaged at least $24 million a year. The only pitchers currently earning that much or more are the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($30.7 million per year), Verlander, the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez ($25 million per year), the Dodgers' Zack Greinke ($24.5 million per year), the New York Yankees' CC Sabathia ($24.4 million per year), and the Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee ($24 million per year) and Cole Hamels ($24 million per year).

Scherzer, 29, had said last month that he wouldn't negotiate a long-term contract with the Tigers during the season if an agreement couldn't be reached by Opening Day.

Scherzer and the Tigers avoided arbitration earlier this offseason, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $15,525,000.

Detroit signed Verlander to a $180 million, seven-year deal shortly before last season, avoiding the prospect of the 2011 league MVP testing the open market.
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