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Should the Tigers shop Max Scherzer?

Nov 6, 2013, 1:08 PM EDT

ALCS - Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

Today Ken Rosenthal plays matchmaker and puts the Nats and Tigers together on a possible Max Scherzer deal.

To be clear: it’s not a rumor or even a news nugget. It’s really just a “what-if/could be.” But (a) Rosenthal is up front about that; and (b) he isn’t one to be silly and irresponsible, so it’s not like it isn’t at least plausible. More to the point, though, it brings up a legitimate subject: what should the Tigers do with Max Scherzer, who hits free agency after the 2014 season.

If I’m the Tigers: I put him in my rotation for 2014 and enjoy 30+ wonderful starts from him, all the while working quietly on an extension. That’s because if I’m the Tigers I still make a lot of dough even with my high payroll, what with a full park every day and an infusion of new national TV money.

But Mike Ilitch (and his heirs) may not wish to have that payroll spiral ever-higher. Because, after all, you have all kinds of obligations and not necessarily a ton of flexibility. And if you’re going to look for some savings, forging an extension to Scherzer may be the easiest place to do it. You still have Verlander and Sanchez on long term deals. You have Drew Smyly ready to make the leap to the rotation. You have Miguel Cabrera, whose contract ends in 2015, and if he’s still killing baseballs through next year, you’re gonna want to extend him.

The Tigers aren’t the Rays, so they don’t have some obvious imperative to trade an ace nearing their walk year. But they should — and probably are — at least considering it.

  1. historiophiliac - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    NO!!!!

    Move along.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
      Make me a match,
      Find me a find,
      catch me a catch
      Matchmaker, Matchmaker
      Look through your book,
      And make me a perfect match.

      • beelza - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        No way in hell does Mr. I, his wife, or their son Christopher move Max Scherzer. Max will be resigned, period. No way does the Ilitch family break-up mlb’s best rotation. Caste will be in right. If Perez goes to second, then the Aussie closer will be a Tiger, or maybe Nathan on a single year deal. If Porcello is moved Sanchez might stay. Mad Max is a Motown Lifer.

    • mick2014 - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      I will give you Matt Kemp & Andre Ethier for Matt Scherzer! 2 for 1 special!
      Then I can sign Beltran for 2 yrs and save a boatload of cash.

      • mick2014 - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        *Max

    • jake0006 - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      Just give him $110 million for five years. And sale Prince to the yankees

  2. raysfan1 - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    The Rays do not actually have an imperative with their ace this winter either, thanks to that same national TV money infusion. Next winter is another story though.

    • kruegere - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Sternberg said publicly that the payroll is going to go down.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        He also just signed off on a $10M contract for a platoon outfielder. Public statements/posturing is politics; it is not an imperative.

        I have speculated the Rays FO will essentially stand pat this year, including paying Price’s arbitration award, because they see a team that can contend for a WS with their current roster. They have to replace the closer and some role players if they do keep Price and Loney, but that’s all.

        If they do move Price, they will be looking to bring back more than they got for Shields last year, which was a major league ready position player in Myers and a major league ready pitcher in Odorizzi.

        I could easily be proven wrong, but I really do not expect moves that don’t at least keep them at roughly equivalent current strength this winter. Regardless, they’re getting the same national TV $ infusion every other MLB team is, so they do not honestly have a fiscal operative this year to move anyone other than Rodney.

  3. darthicarus - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I don’t think it’s silly for the Tigers to move Scherzer. They were in a similar position a few years back salary-wise & traded away fan favorite and local hero Curtis Granderson (which put the whole city in an uproar & many believed Dombrowski to be an idiot) for a few cheaper & younger players. Who would’ve guessed then that Austin Jackson would turn out as he did or that Max Scherzer would be a Cy Young candidate (probably winner?) when that deal was made?

    I don’t know if Dombrowski can hit paydirt again on a deal like that to move a guy deserving a large contract in his walk year, but based on his past history of trades (not including the ones for Jake Westbrook or Aubrey Huff…or Edgar Renteria) I have confidence DD will make the right call.

    • weaselpuppy - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      I think you mean Jarrod Washburn….the guy who singlehandedly kept them out of the 2009 playoffs…

  4. natstowngreg - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    First question after reading this: did Rosenthal bother to consider whether it would work for the Nats? He did.

    *drools at thought of Strasburg-Scherzer/Price-Gio-Zimmermann-Detwiler (if healthy) rotation*

    The Nats are on the cusp of becoming a top 10 payroll team, without adding expensive contracts. The normal salary progression of a relatively young team should take care of that. They face decisions on extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, and have several other arbitration-eligible players. It appears the Lerners are willing to increase the payroll to win. Are they willing enough to pay what’s needed to keep the team together and add an expensive contract like Scherzer’s or Price’s? Can’t say, but it seems possible.

    The Nats’ farm system isn’t as full as it used to be. Kids have graduated to the Majors or been traded for Major League talent. Still, it’s true that the Nats have several young power arms to entice potential trade partners.

    Bottom line: We don’t know if the Tigers are even considering trading Scherzer, or if Rizzo might be interested in making such a deal. it. seems plausible from the Nats’ standpoint, though.

  5. daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Keep scherzer and trade fielder to the Yankees. As a lefty he would be at home in their stadium. Put miggy back at 1B and resign Peralta for 3B or uses Costellanos at 3B. Miggy benefitted from Prince hitting cleanup but VMart can fill that four spot. Use the money saved on fielder to keep scherzer and bring in Ellsbury to lead off. Him or Jackson could move to left field and Jackson could stay in the 8 spot where he excelled during the ALCS.

    • zzalapski - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Are the Tigers going to take Teixeira in return for Fielder? No? Okay, then.

      • daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        See my comments below.

      • zzalapski - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:06 PM

        I have. I still find your argument ignorant of the realities of the Yankees’ current financial framework; it’s also propped up by an inaccurate assessment of Fielder’s recent performance.

        The Yankees are not acquiring Fielder unless they find a taker for Texeira. And perhaps not even then.

    • pastabelly - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Anyone getting Fielder would want the Tigers to eat a significant amount of the contract. That really doesn’t open up too much payroll flexibility. Getting other teams to take on your bad contracts is next to impossible (unless Magic Johnson is drinking again).

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Keep scherzer and trade fielder to the Yankees.

      Do the Yanks get a say in this? A declining first baseman with seven expensive years remaining on a contract. Let’s sign up for that…

      • daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Who says he’s decling? Look through these comments where I just posted him numbers compared to Texeiras. That’s also in Comerica park, and he put up over 100 RBI’s hitting after Miggy who lead the league in RBI’s meaning people were rarely on base for Fielder when being compared to other hitters. Now put Fielder in Yankee Stadium where my 7 year old son can hit a home run to right field because of the jet stream. Fielder is a better hitter than MOST of the Yankees current roster, and the few that are better than Fielder are all in their late 30′s. Fielder is 28.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:37 PM

        Who says he’s decling?

        His stats do (don’t look at counting stats, look at rate stats)

        2011-2012-2013

        ISO (power): .267, .215, .178
        BB%: 15.5%, 12.3%, 10.5%
        wOBA: .410, .398, .358
        wRC+: 160, 153, 125

        He’ll be turning 30 next year, and has 6 years of a contract beyond that. So again, why would the Yanks make this trade?

      • zzalapski - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        Fielder (2012): .313/.412/.528, 151 OPS+, 5.4 oWAR
        Fielder (2013): .279/.362/.457, 120 OPS+, 2.9 oWAR

        In going from 2012 to 2013, I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of a decline. He’s still a fine player, and he may bounce back next year, but players of Fielders type don’t tend to age well.

        Also, he’s hit much better at home than away since coming to Detroit, possibly because Comerica is not an offensive dead zone as you seem to think it is (9th in 2012 PF, 3rd in 2013 PF).

  6. hieronymous27 - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    If the reports I’ve read are to be believed, the Tigers LOST money in 2012 when they went to the World Series and were swept by the Giants. The Tigers average good numbers for attendance, make decent money from their local radio & TV deals and are very good in the marketing and merchandising department. Now, if they lost money again in 2013 with all the big money they are shelling out for payroll then trading Scherzer would make fiscal sense. It also might just keep their window for winning a World Series open for a longer period of time IF the prospects they would acquire in any potential deal would pan out.

    • jarzmel - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Maybe where ever you read that was incorrect.

  7. tigers182 - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Daddy, why would the Yankees just take on Prince Fielder when they already have a $180 million first baseman? And Cabrera at third is stronger defensively than Peralta ever could be. The notion that Cabrera is bad defensively at third because he’s a bigger guy is completely false.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      The notion that Cabrera is bad defensively at third because he’s a bigger guy is completely false.

      It’s not because he’s big, it’s because he’s bad defensively.

    • daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      I have another comment below this one that talks about it more, but to add to it they could use Prince as a DH.

      Here are the stats for last year for the 3 Yankee DH/OF’s (except Gardner) that they would still have next year vs. Fielders stats.

      Soriano Average .255 HR 34 RBI 101
      Wells .233 11 50
      Ichiro .262 7 35
      Texeira (2012 since only played few games last year) .251 24 84

      Now add to that that Soriano will be 38, Wells, 35, Ichiro 40, and Tex 34 when next season starts.

      Prince on the other hand will be 28, and his numbers from last year, in Comerica were .279 25 and 106. 106 RBI even though the RBI leader hit before him and usually left no one on for him to drive in. Put Prince in NY with that jet stream and those number jump up. Tex plays first base for a few more years, and then they can go with Prince at first afterwards, but use him as a DH for now.

      I bring up all the OF’s because Vernon Wells was used as a DH when he didn’t play 1B so I compared his stats/age to Ichiro and Soriano just to show that they are all old and not producing at Fielders level.

      Also, look deeper at Tex’s numbers for the past few seasons compared to Fielders:
      Tex: Fielder:
      2009- .292 39 122 2009- .299 46 141
      2010- .256 33 108 2010- .261 32 83
      2011- .248 39 111 2011- .299 38 120
      2012- .251 24 84 2012- .313 30 108
      2013-Injured 2013- .279 25 106

      I started with 2009 because that’s 5 years worth, and also Tex’s first year in NY. His average is down significantly, and there is no guarantee he will recover after his injury to hit like he used to. But if he does, having him at 1B and Prince DH for a few years would improve both of their numbers, and then since Tex is getting old, you have already have his replacement at first base already there in Prince.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        You’re using BA, HR and RBI to discuss a hitter’s worth. There are far better stats to do so. Also, you’re completely leaving out defense and baserunning which Fielder is awful at.

    • daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      I didn’t even say anything about him being bad at 3rd. He’s better at first though and then Costellanos who is a natural 3B could take over rather than us trying to force Costellanos to learn to play left field.

  8. knowlegeforyou - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    I was hoping for Smyly and Castellanos for Kimbrel

  9. daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    My pint wasn’t necessarily that the Yankees would want Fielder. I was more so trying to show a way the Tigers could dramatically improve by moving one guy who most would think you couldn’t risk losing. Now the Yankees make sense to me because most teams wont take on a contract like Fielders. NY might. Fielders numbers would go way up in that stadium with the jet stream to right field compared to the pitcher friendly Comerica Park. Keep Tex at 1B with his gold glove and DH Fielder. Wells can play one of the corners in the OF. Again, my main point was to move Fielder, but the Yanks would be one if the few places willing to take that contract.

    • pastabelly - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      In Fantasyland, Brian Cashman would step up and agree to pay $24,000,000 per year for the next seven years. Of course, since Prince keeps himself in such wonderful shape, there is no question he will be a bargain at $24 million at age 36. In this Fantasyland, Cashman would have three wonderful years of paying $46,500,000 to Teixeira and Fielder, while trying to keep his payroll south of $200,000,000. Of course, this doesn’t even take into account the close to $100,000,000 they owe CC Sabathia over the next four years. He will never take on that Fielder contract. Dream on.

      • daddyargue - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        and ALL OF THE BASEBALL WORLD predicted that the Tigers could afford Prince Fielder when Vmart got hurt even thought Miggy was already getting 22 a year on top of what we were paying out pitching….

        plus, what about Tex’s recent numbers suggest even will even be around after this year unless he takes a reduced deal just like the captain himself did?

      • emdash01 - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        Teixeira is signed through 2016, and owed $67.5 million over the next three years. The Yankees will be obligated to pay him that unless he decides to retire – which he won’t.

  10. ezthinking - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    It’s a stupid article by Rosenthal as it does not name any names the Tigers want or need.

    Do they need a closer? Sure, but not Scherzer bad.

    Does it talk about Hunter and V-Mart coming off the books in 2015? No.

    Does it talk about the used up/injured Clippard and Storen? No.

    Nothing to see here with Ken. Move along.

    • emdash01 - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      I don’t know about the feasibility of the deal – I would suspect that the Nats don’t have a top prospect close enough to MLB-ready for the Tigers to trade Scherzer, as I can’t see them moving Rendon – but Clippard was actually one of the most effective relief pitchers in the NL last year. And Storen was never really injured, at least not so far as anyone has said. His problems seem to have been mechanical/mental more than anything.

    • paperlions - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      Yeah, it is embarrassing. Reporters that try to find trade matches always make embarrassing suggestions because they simply don’t understand enough about value and team needs to make reasonable guesses for trade partners. Guys like Rosenthal and Olney do fine reporting the news or gossip they have heard….but any attempt at actual analysis or reasonable trade partners or FA landing spots are usually coarse and embarrassingly poorly thought out.

  11. pastabelly - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Back to the original point, the Tigers should keep Scherzer for another year. They are legitimate threats in 2014 with Verlander-Scherzer-Sanchez. Why throw a great opportunity away? They could spend short money and improve that crappy bullpen and add some depth players. It was Detroit (not St Louis) that was actually pretty close to beating the Red Sox.

  12. henryd3rd - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Craig, you have put in far too many hours over the past nine months. Its time you take a long vacation. When do pitchers and catchers report?

  13. wingsfan97 - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Guarantee fielder will be fine next year.the only reason he sucked was because he had family problems.and money would have nothing to do with Scherzer being traded. Illitch will mostly keep him and sign someone for a lot money so he can get his ring before he does

  14. dowhatifeellike - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    It’s certainly worth consideration. Scherzer’s value will never be higher than it is right now. I think the only way the Tigers can extend him is if he regresses next season. If he has another great year he’s going to land a big pay day somewhere else.

  15. butchers1964 - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Sorry Max! Thanx for a great couple of years. If you don’t trade him now you can’t afford to sign him and extend Cabrera next year. You’re stuck with Fielder. I say trade him to the Reds for Brandon Phillips and Sean Marshall. By not re-signing Peralta and Infante you save $10 mil -almost enough to cover BP’s $11 mil. You get a lead off hitter and a great defender to join Eglasias up the middle and improve your team speed. Make Drew Smyly a starter and sign Joe Nathan to close. Let Benoit go as he is going to be too expensive. Max is at his highest value and will be hard pressed to repeat a year like the one he had, and if he does it would at least be in the National League.

  16. jake0006 - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    Give Max $110 m for 5 years, trade Prince to the Yankee’s.

  17. georgewashingtonsghost - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    If the Tigers are going to sign a “proven” closer, why not just keep Benoit? He is comparable to Nathan and Balfour (both in talent and in expected cost) but they won’t have to give up a draft pick to sign Benoit.

    • butchers1964 - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      hes not a proven closer. a half year doesn’t make you proven and he gives up too many hr’s aka grand slam Papi.

  18. tn16 - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Max to jays for delibar and Cecil

    • weaselpuppy - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:10 AM

      That will get you Maxwell Smart

  19. ghostofbobbylayne - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Tigers traded Denny McClain in 1970 after he wpon 31 games in 1968, worked out pretty good for the Tigers. Nolan Ryan could never fin a home, he was traded so often.

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