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Tigers, Max Scherzer cut off extension talks

Mar 23, 2014, 9:37 AM EST

max scherzer getty Getty Images

As first reported by MLive.com’s Chris Iott, the Tigers made a final long-term extension offer this weekend to the representatives of right-hander Max Scherzer and had it rejected. The two sides will wait until the offseason to pick the negotiations back up, and there’s obviously now a very good chance that Scherzer will be hitting the open market.

“We made him an offer that would have placed him among highest paid pitchers in baseball,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told the media on Sunday morning. “They turned it down.”

Scherzer is set to earn $15.53 million in 2014 — his third and final season of salary arbitration.

The 29-year-old won American League Cy Young Award honors last season after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 240 strikeouts in 214 1/3 innings (32 starts). His agent is Scott Boras.

The Tigers signed Justin Verlander to a seven-year, $180 million extension last March.

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UPDATE, 1:19 p.m. ET: Boras has responded to Dombrowski’s statement, via ESPN.com:

“Max Scherzer made 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.”

So there seems to be some disagreement between the parties about how the negotiations went down.

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UPDATE, 3:55 p.m. ET: According to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, the Tigers offered Scherzer a six-year, $144 million extension. Those are the same terms that ace lefty Cole Hamels got from the Phillies in 2012.

  1. goskinsvt - Mar 23, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    One of these days Boras is going to get burned by this kind of stuff…

    • gothapotamus90210 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      Ryan Madson after 2011 season and Drew almost officially burned.

      Nobody seems to remember Prince Fielder’s contract was a product of V-Mart getting injured & Illich wanting to win a championship before he passes. If V-Mart didn’t tear his ACL working out, who knows what that 9/214 would’ve turned in to.

  2. dandy53 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    It’s too bad Max is letting a career year go to his head. Wonder what his price tag will be if he gets hurt or the ERA goes up?

  3. chacochicken - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Look, Mr. Reaper, I’ve got a 5 year life extension on the table as we speak *glances downward*. Hey I like the atmosphere here and we’re willing to give a modest home town discount. So, how about I die in 3 years with a mutual option for a 4th? I really feel like we are going to outproduce the value of this contract so we should reassess in two years and consider a new extension at that point. By that way, I love your work. Who does your representation?

  4. gothapotamus90210 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    The Tigers have to wonder if Scherzer will consistently be the 4.2 WAR pitcher of 2012 or the 6.7 WAR pitcher of 2013.

    Even if he looks more like the 4.2 WAR pitcher of 2012, this upcoming off-season’s crop of free agent pitchers is pretty barren. Shields looks to be a distance 2nd, especially since he’s three years older than Scherzer.

    Even if Scherzer can repeat 2013, I don’t know how realistic a $165M+ deal for him would be. He’s going to be 31 in 2015. Also, most of the big spenders already have big $ tied up in an ace. However, you can never count the Dodgers or Yankees out, and there always could be a dark horse (i.e. Mariners & Cano).

    If the Tigers offered him $150M or better, he’s a fool for not taking it. Even if they came in the $140-150M range, it probably would’ve been worthy of consideration if it contained escalators.

    A 4.2 WAR this season would probably net him $125M in FA, but I don’t see the return being overly reflective if he does have another Cy worthy season (i.e. $180M+). If the Tigers did offer $150M+, I don’t think it’s worth the risk to potentially seek out an additional $30M in FA.

  5. giantboy99 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    GREED is a terrible thing.

    • Old Gator - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      Greed clarifies.

      Like ghee.

  6. onbucky96 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    I was surpised contract talks broke off. Then I read Scott Boras is his agent. Doubtless the Dark Lord of the MLBPA knows he can do better in free agency. Best wishes Detroit.

  7. paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Scherzer turns 30 this year and has had a couple of good to very good years and one elite year. It would be very dangerous for any team to assume that the elite year at age 29 represents a new, sustainable, and repeatable level of ability.

    It sucks when teams lose their stars, but it is almost always better to let someone else make the mistake of over-paying a guy in his 30s (especially one without a long track record of greatness) than to take the risk yourself.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      And what happens if he has a strong year again this year?

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Nothing. If he won’t take a deal that makes him among the highest paid pitchers now, the price can’t go up too much. If he is already acting like 2013 is the new norm for himself, then repeating it won’t change his salary demands (and it still won’t prove that the gains are sustainable).

        There are very few teams with the money to spend that he’ll be looking for, his market is already going to be small, and even many teams with that money are smart enough to not go beyond 5 years for a pitcher going into his age 31 season as a FA.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        He’s a Boras client. If his goal is to stay with the Tigers, they’ve probably already made him a reasonable offer that will make him crazy rich. If his goal is to maximize his earnings, then he’s going to go to FA unless the Tigers offer him something truly crazy.

        If he is great again, the price should be the same as it is now. Anything else should reduce the demands….but, yeah, there is always the danger that one dumb owner/GM offers him 8 years and $240M…just hope it isn’t the Tigers.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Man, is this post full of hating. His Heterochromianess, y’all!

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        Reports said that the offer would have put him among the top 6 highest paid pitchers and was just below what they gave Verlander. That’s a lot of money for a 30 yr old with one great season under his belt.

        I hope you aren’t construing my comments as hate. I don’t care what Max decides, I’m just commenting on the risk involved in the situation.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        No, I know you’re always negative about giving big contracts and assume the worst production.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        That isn’t so. What I don’t do is assume maximum production, which is not the same as “worst production”. I am fine with long-term deals, but you can’t max out on years and dollars and expect the deal to not be horrible. There have been few long-term deals (5+ yrs) given to 30+ yr old players that worked out for the team….long term deals to guys before they are 29 often work out fairly well.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        I know. You think teams should never get the bad end of a deal or have to do any of the settling.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        No, I think that smart teams balance risk by trying to minimize how bad the bad end is. Some deals are obviously horrible the day they are signed and teams start to regret them very early on (e.g. Pujols, Choo, Cano, Howard).

        If the Tigers give Scherzer a Verlander contract, exactly how good do you think that team will be in a couple of years? The team is getting old, their MiLB system is thin on talent, and FAs are an expensive way to build a team.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        See, you only focus on the end. Seriously, he could go somewhere else and be their #1. Quite honestly, I’m super pissed that they didn’t cough up for the BP and a real closer when they had spare cash, so we could have a championship already. They hung on to some crap (Inge, V-Wiggles) too long and did not get aggressive about upgrading before it got expensive.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        For the Tigers, it would be the end of his deal that would be the problem though…within a couple of years the Tigers could be a team of expensive players and scraps, which never works. If they wind up spending about $75-85 M on 3 players, then they are going to have to get excellent production from those guys every year to have any hopes of being competitive. On this trajectory, they are a couple of years away from being the 2014 Phillies.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Ok, so what else do we have now to win? What’s the alternative?

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        IMO, the TIgers have put themselves in a tough spot by continuing to get older and more expensive as Illitch tries to win a WS before he dies. I think a Phillies-like crash and re-building period are coming regardless. If they overpay for Scherzer that could just make the rebuilding harder as he would have less trade value and they’d have to eat more money to even trade him.

        Sometimes there are not easy answers or quick fixes….but making sound player acquisition decisions is always a good idea and overpaying on a long-term contract (meaning you over pay in both years and dollars) is always a bad idea.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        No, it’s bad idea for you because of your preferences. You have to look at the long term here. For a very long time, our team was poorly managed and went nowhere. You don’t make up for years and years of that in a couple of years. Ilitch was probably patient for too long and now, he wants to win before he dies, which is reasonable (and you and I would likely feel the same in his grampa slippers). Our only chance at winning is to buy due to the years of bad management. The goal, I think, is to buy the win while trying to build for somewhere down the road (a 5-10 year gap on champions is reasonable where 20+ years is not). Frankly, I think they were hoping to have won already and be in a position to parlay the winning team into long-term building. Compare to Astros.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        I think we can agree that it just isn’t an ideal situation and that it is unfortunate that they didn’t win already, which does (I agree to some degree) justify continuing to focus on the present and ignore the future….but man, a couple of more years and the present and future could be really ugly….but yes, a WS title could make it feel worth while.

        People love to rip the Astros and Cubs, but those teams are in much better shape than the Phillies because they did what they had to do to turn around their franchires as quickly as possible, whereas Phillies are just delaying the inevitable.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        I think I’m going to take that to mean: “You’re right, L.”

        I had a Poli Sci professor in college who said this: Yes, the people of Louisianna could’ve gotten roads and hospitals cheaper if they didn’t have to give the Kingfish and his cronies kickbacks. But, no one was willing to give it to them cheaper and they needed it. So, the only way they were going to get it was the expensive, inefficient way. In the end, their lives were infinitely better because they had access to electricity and markets and medical care they never had before.

      • pwshrugged - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        That’s basically what Boras and Scherzer are gambling on – that he’ll continue at a career-best rate.

        I assume the Tigers made him a reasonable offer – something above Bailey’s contract, probably in that $130-150M range. My feeling is that if Scherzer continues at the pace he did last season, he can top that in free agency; but any falter and he likely won’t. Boras seems to be forgetting that Scherzer will almost assuredly be a Type A free agent, so teams might balk at losing a draft pick for him. Maybe.

        The Tigers are playing this right; they made an offer, did their best. But the farm system is thin, so losing Scherzer and gaining an extra pick is honestly not a bad investment in the future – they already have two rotation standouts in Verlander and Sanchez, after all.

        That said, the likelihood of Scherzer replicating last season is low. He’s been consistently good since mid-2012, but that’s a short time. He had the best run support in the AL last year, which really inflated his win numbers. Beyond that, it’s just logical to assume some regression to the mean – I really wouldn’t be surprised if Scherzer turns in a 16-9, 200 K, 3.40 ERA sort of year.

        Dude wants to test free agency, that’s great; I understand he wants to cash in while he can. But isn’t Ervin Santana the obvious cautionary tale here? If Boras is trying to get Scherzer some Verlander-esque money, they’re dreaming. Scherzer’s stock can only go down from here; he should take what the Tigers give him.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Well, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion. I just think that a lot of the opinions on here are built on the assumption that he doesn’t have another great year — which is not a given. Even if this season is not as good as last but is like 2012, he’s still a great option and some teams would spend the money to get him. But, if will be a huge turd bomb if they got rid of Prince so they can pay Max and he walks. I think we basically fall out of serious championship contention at that point (given the other moves that have occurred).

      • pwshrugged - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        It’s reasonable to assume that Max won’t replicate a career-best year; that’s not to say he won’t have a good year, of course. But to think he’ll own a sub-3.00 ERA and get 20+ wins again is… a little overzealous. My point with this is that Max is obviously in the best possible negotiating place he can be; but that ends when the season starts – UNLESS he has another career-best year. I think, at this point, that Max is overplaying his hand. Sources are saying now that he turned down Verlander-esque money from the Tigers, which is just mind-boggling to me. He won’t get that kind of offer in free agency, I’m sure of it, due to the compensatory draft pick rules. In short, if he has a strong year again, he’s exactly where he is now next year, and great for him; but the more likely scenario is that he has a worse year, even minutely so due to factors outside of his control (like run support), and his position weakens.

        As for the Tigers – we don’t need $40M/year tied up in two pitchers. I love Max, don’t get me wrong; but Verlander-Sanchez make a good 1-2 after this year, with Smyly and Porcello and whoever else. It’s not a bad pitching situation. As far as the extra money, it’s going to end up used to extend Cabrera, as well, who certainly justifies $20M/year more than Max does, based on sustained career numbers.

        One thing that’s clear to me, though, is that the Tigers are none too pleased with Scherzer, or they wouldn’t have released this statement, which basically smears Max as greedy. It’s not a classy move by the Tigers, sadly, and it makes me think there’s no way Max comes back after this year.

        I don’t think that spells doom for championship contention, though; the Tigers should still be a good team (the bullpen concerns me, though). They’re just going to do it in a different way than they have in the past. Look at a lot of other recent champions – neither Boston nor St. Louis keep substantial amounts of money tied up in a small number of players. The better you can spread it around, the better a team tends to be. Star power means nothing without depth.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        Yes, it seems very much to me that the Tigers are displeased. They don’t usually make pointed announcements like this. It makes me think the negotiations are poisoned her. However, the one advantages we’ve had is incredible pitching. Less that, I do not see us as a championship team — especially since we shed PF (Miggy cannot do it alone). Having V, Sanchez & Max locked up guarantees us a chance at competing for a few years. It gives us multiple opportunities to be champs.

        I don’t think Max has to be quite as good as he was last year to get a good contract. If he stays somewhere in the neighborhood, he’ll get big money because he can point to multi-year trend of coming into his own (and I do think he’s a better cut of steak than others who have been on the market). I’d also point out that people said Torii couldn’t keep producing, and although he may not be at his career year level, he has been a good pick up for us and worth it. You don’t have to be your very best if your average justifies. Teams know they don’t pay for peak performance (as opposed to average).

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        “Her,” of course, being Oklahoman for “here.”

        Edit function!

    • Eric Chase. - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      If they doled it out to Scherzer, then Cabrera, along with Verlander, and Sanchez…you’re taking the Ruben Amaro Path of Doom.

      For Scherzer’s desire, they could lock up the prime years of Castellanos, Porcello and Smyly, and still have a ton left over.

      • metrocritical - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        Given that the team had to have anticipated a tricky negotiation, wouldn’t it have made more sense to keep Fister, go all in this year and let Max go after the season? Or trade Fister for a hitter? With all the other pending FA’s coming off the books after 2014, Detroit would’ve had over 40 million to spend for 2015. Scherzer is likely to walk but it would be nice to see him walk with some post season hardware.

  8. nflfollower - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Im a tigers fan and I hope he repeats last year, but what are the odds of that? Should have signed the deal if it was neighborhood of 150

    • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Where is this $150M number coming from? I’ve seen no numbers so far. Are y’all just making assumptions based on crap you made up?

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        Stark has some details about the AAV range…nothing about years though.

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10658756/max-scherzer-rejects-offer-talks-tabled-detroit-tigers-say

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Thanks for that. We still don’t know real numbers though (especially without years).

        BTW, I guess that means he’s the only guy at that level who isn’t locked down — which makes him a juicy porterhouse on the FA market.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        Yep, big ol’ juicy porterhouse. There are some other nice cuts, maybe a prime rib (Lester, Shields) or a NY Strip quality (Cueto, Masterson) that may be available as FAs….but no other porterhouses.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Oh, good. I guess that means I picked the right cut to use for my example. I’m no steak expert.

  9. janessa31888 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Its hard to keep those Cy Young winners:(

  10. keltictim - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    It is so beyond my line of thinking to hear the words “Tim we are offering you a guaranteed contract worth 150 million dollars and you don’t have to kill anyone or do anything against your morals. All you have to do is play a game.” , and then turn that down. I know jealousy is a sin, but good lord am I jealous.

  11. raysfan1 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    I’d like to see what the “very substantial” offer was prior to labeling the player as “greedy” as if the team owner isn’t also. If it’s significantly less than what he can make on the free agent market, then he’s perfectly justified in declining it. (That said, if he’s looking for 6-7 years, then I agree it’s too big a gamble on a 30-year-old.)

  12. uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    You have to think that Scherzer will be able to get a 6 year $120 to $130MM deal when he hits FA. That will make him 35 at the end of July 2020 the final year of that contract. If he can come close to his 2013 performance this year that kind of contract in the context of MLB salaries isn’t out of the question.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Also, it might appeal that elsewhere he could be their #1.

  13. schke - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    I really believe he just doesn’t want to stay in Detroit. Since he can’t come out and say that, this is the only way to go.

    When you’re set to make 15 Mil.+ a season, does another million or two a season really matter that much?

    Again, I simply believe he doesn’t want to stay in Detroit.

    • uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      “When you’re set to make 15 Mil.+ a season, does another million or two a season really matter that much?” I think it does matter when pitchers that aren’t as good as you have just signed for an average of $17.5MM (Bailey). And you know Lester isn’t going to settle for just $15MM when he re-signs with the Red Sox.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        That is only true if you think that your salary relative to others is a priority rather than other considerations (e.g. that you will be crazy rich regardless, that you can pitch for a team you say you want to stay with).

  14. metrocritical - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    And a fairly disastrous off season for the Tigers continues. In 2013, it seemed that the only thing that could stop them from a Series win was a injury to Miguel Cabrera and now it seems that a playoff appearance is about the best they can hope for. The Fister trade continues to look ill advised, the roster is full of question marks and the future doesn’t look so rosy, either. For this year, the starting pitching, if healthy, ought to keep them in the chase for the division title but it appears that DD’s magic touch may be running out at the same time as Mr. Illitch’s discretionary spending money. On the flip side, Scherzer better not tweak an elbow or shoulder or 2014 could be a disaster,for him, too.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      What the hell happened???? All we had to do for this season was pick up a closer and upgrade the BP a little. Instead, it all went to hell. I have no idea what they are doing. I look at the team now, and I do not think we are better this year. :(

      • Old Gator - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        Second law of thermodynamics. It always fails.

      • metrocritical - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        The best guess my be that even Illitch has spending limits and the team has finally reached the point where they can’t or won’t spend wildly or freely. The Tigers of 2-3 years ago would’ve gotten a Carlos Beltran to patch in one of their offensive gaps, they would not have traded Fister without a tangible return to the major league roster or kept him and dealt someone else for a starting outfielder with some power or a top notch middle reliever. By all appearances, it seems that the team is shifting into a more frugal approach and possibly because they have no choice. Only the east and west coast powerhouses seem to be able to endlessly print money. The rest of the league ultimately operates on a budget. Additionally: Only teams with great depth and a healthy farm system can survive a stretch of unlucky injuries. The Tigers are not one of those teams. They don’t have zero depth, they might not even have width, and no one is on the verge of rescuing them from the farm.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        I don’t think it’s simply about spending, so much as getting a return on it. If you spend big and don’t get a ring, you have to think about not spending big anymore. Maybe you should try something else (you can’t just do the same things all the time and expect different results). I think the big spending was intended to get quick results. They did not get that, so they are switching gears. Also, they may finally have learned that they have to buy some decent back ups to support their stars. That means you have to do a little picking and choosing (sorry, Dog). Blah.

  15. historiophiliac - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    RE: the update — I don’t think it will help matters for Boras to appeal to the fans (know your audience, dude — this is Detroit). The Tigers management is pretty generous and player-friendly. Going over their heads, so to speak, probably won’t engender a lot of goodwill. I understand wanting to appeal to fans and reassure that he wants to be there — that’s a good thing to do. I think it could’ve been said in a more positive way, however. Having said that, the Tigers’ departure from their usual public pronouncements certainly invited this kind of snarky response. I hope we are not approaching MAD here…

  16. xjokerz - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    one good year surely got to Max’s head

    we should have traded him instead of Fister.

    • metrocritical - Mar 23, 2014 at 9:06 PM

      For current and future budget considerations, I fully expected that Scherzer would be traded this past off season and Fister would remain. The Tigers could’ve probably gotten a reasonable return for Scherzer while keeping a much cheaper, solid number 3 starter and maintain roster flexibility going forward.

  17. pastabelly - Mar 23, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    This has very Ellsbury to Yankees feel about it. Why wouldn’t he be a Yankee in 2015?

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