Max Scherzer is the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award this fall. But will he still be playing for the Tigers this spring? Speculation has gone all the way back to the previous offseason that Scherzer's contract and impending free agency makes him a good candidate for the Tigers to trade so they can reload and extend their postseason window a few more years.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote of another reason for trade talk today.
I was surprised how many outside executives said Scherzer would absolutely be on the block this winter. And then equally surprised by how many echoed what this AL executive said: "It might be posturing to try to influence Scherzer to engage in a long-term contract. Try to scare him that he will get traded so he can pressure [agent] Scott Boras. It won't work, but I think that's the tactic."
Scherzer is eligible to become a free agent after the 2014 season and is arbitration eligible this offseason.
Scherzer had a 21-3 record in 2013 with a 2.90 ERA. He actually trailed Anibal Sanchez in the ERA race, but strong stats across the board -- as well as not missing any time to injury, as Sanchez did -- should be enough to get Scherzer the Cy Young.
Since arriving in Detroit in at the winter meetings of 2009-10, Scherzer has gone 64-30 with a 3.62 ERA and 829 strikeouts in 793 innings.
Scherzer actually arrived in the kind of trade some people consider the Tigers would make. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski traded star center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees as part of a three-trade deal. Scherzer, current center fielder Austin Jackson, left-hander Phil Coke and left-hander Daniel Schlereth all joined the Tigers at a cost-controlled basis that allowed Detroit to reload and continue to sign free agents. Jackson and Scherzer are the stars, while Coke has spent time in both the rotation and bullpen and is fondly remembered for his glove-slamming celebration after closing out the 2012 ALCS.
To throw some water on all this talk though, the Tigers came so close to the World Series in 2013 and should have the pieces to make another run in 2014. Trading Scherzer would seem a risky business that could hinder that opportunity, so it doesn't seem like the kind of move to make at this time unless Dombrowski was really certain he's getting quality players in return that help improve the team.
So while this will not likely be the end of discussions surrounding Scherzer, these rumors probably mean little.
(But just a bit of warning, I wrote that same thing about Granderson, too.)