Professional athletes are always one game, one step, or even one pitch away from having their careers altered by injury. According to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, it's with that reality in mind that Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer recently took out a massive insurance policy that would cover lost potential earnings should he suffer an injury before becoming a free agent this winter.
As you may recall, Scherzer and agent Scott Boras balked at a six-year, $144 million contract extension offered by the Tigers in March. It seemed like a risky proposition at the time, but it turns out research was already being done at Scherzer's request to determine the frequency of injury to pitchers in his age group. Scherzer will turn 30 on July 27.
"This takes the injury risk out of it," said Scherzer, who did not specify if the policy covered all or most of the $144 million.
Insurance policies for athletes against future earnings are not uncommon, though the amount involved with Scherzer's earning potential is considered high even in the world of sports. Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said he was covered by such a policy entering his walk year. Soccer player Cristiano Rinaldo was covered by a $153 million policy against injury to his lower half, but that policy was covered by his team, Real Madrid.
It's interesting to note that Boras' research found that injuries to pitchers tend to decrease after they have pitched at least four years in the big leagues, and that position players are far more likely to break down due to their workload. That said, Scherzer pointed out the recent epidemic of Tommy John surgeries as a red flag reminder that the next start isn't always guaranteed, even if it seems to be applying more to younger arms.
When you consider the Tigers are going to rely on Scherzer for about 33 starts and over 200 innings in the regular season alone, it's a good idea to keep all bases covered. Factor in the potential for another deep run in the postseason and the intensity that goes into it, it all adds up to more opportunities for that one career-altering pitch. That gives him all the more reason to insure his future.
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