Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Scherzer pitching way to big money
By Jason A. Churchill
The Detroit Tigers will have some difficult choices to make in the next year or so as they assess which key players to which they'll offer mega contract extensions and which ones to dangle in trade. A couple of Scott Boras clients could be either-or propositions for GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch, among the subjects discussed by Lynn Henning earlier this week.
Before we get to centerfielder Austin Jackson and right-hander Max Scherzer, it's necessary to note that Miguel Cabrera's contract is up after the 2015 season, but it's likely safe to assume the club won't let their best hitter walk, or look to move him.
Scherzer is in year two of arbitration and is slated for free agency after the 2014 campaign, while Jackson is scheduled to hit the market after '15 with Cabrera. Boras represents both players and almost exclusively takes his clients to free agency where he believes in working the open market.
If each gets to free agency, the chances the Tigers retain both may not be very good, but Boras isn't foreign to extensions that come before free agency. He represents Carlos Gonzalez and Jered Weaver, for example, both whom inked long-term deals rather than wait for free agency.
Considering that possibility, even if quite remote, it's not out of the question by any stretch that Ilitch continues to open the checkbook and pays to keep both players. If that occurs, it may mean the end of the line for a few other players that are in the middle of arbitration and getting more expensive by the year, including right-handers Doug Fister and Rick Porcello.
If the club feels they need to choose between Scherzer and Jackson, I'd guess Jackson wins out, since he's inherently a safer bet to remain healthy than is Scherzer, a pitcher with unorthodox mechanics. Jackson is also two and a half years younger.
Scherzer is off to a great start in 2013, posting a 30-4 K/BB ratio in three starts and allowing just twp earned runs in his past 14 innings, which does more to complicate the situation, even if the Tigers plan to do what it takes to keep both players around long term.