The Detroit Tigers and Max Scherzer were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension and have cut off any further negotiations until the offseason. That means the reigning American League Cy Young winner could and likely will end up hitting the open market next winter.
Chris Iott on MLive.com was the first to report Sunday morning that the Tigers worked with Scherzer's agent Scott Boras beyond a Thursday deadline but couldn't come together on a deal. The team later released this statement confirming the report.
“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."
Scherzer inked a one-year, $15.525 million deal in January to cover his final season of arbitration. It's not clear what type of numbers he was looking for in negotiations, but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski reiterated to Iott that Detroit's offer was substantial.
"We made him an offer that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball," Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski said it was a personal record for the largest offer to a player that had been turned down.
"It's a record for me," Dombrowski said. "I can't speak for other people."
Scherzer, 29, went 21-3 and posted a 2.90 ERA in 214 1/3 innings during his Cy Young campaign last season. Over six seasons he's 73-45 with a 3.67 ERA and 3.23 K/BB ratio. He's definitely a big money pitcher, and we may find just how big the numbers can get if he does in fact hit free agency next winter. He'll need to stay healthy for that to happen as well.
In the meantime, Scherzer says his focus on winning with Detroit this season won't change, and his overall performance shouldn't be affected one way or the other by the lack of a new contract.
"We weren't able to get a deal done, but honestly that doesn't change anything for me on my end," Scherzer said late Sunday morning. "I'm here to win. I'm here to try to get a ring for (Mike Ilitch). That's what it's all about now. That's the No. 1 focus of it.
"If I had a contract, it wasn't going to make me pitch better. Not having a contract is not going to make me pitch worse. Obviously, going into 2014, I can't wait to get out there and start pitching during the season and do what I do best."
Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a statement from Scott Boras himself. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports provides that.
“Max Scherzer made a substantial long-term offer to the Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball. and that offer was rejected. Max has stated he is happy in Detroit with the city, the fans and his teammates. He looks forward to further discussion of a contract proposal at season’s end.”
So both sides are saying they made "substantial" offers that the other side walked away from. It's the kind of situation that makes you wonder if Detroit will end up pursuing a trade during the season to ensure they get a return and to avoid dealing with a similar headache next winter.
The lack of an extension with Scherzer could in some way explain why Detroit has been hesitant to pursue another Boras client in Stephen Drew as well. Separate players and situations sure, but sometimes these things bleed over, especially when agents like Boras are involved. That's pure speculation, but always something to file away.
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