The Detroit Tigers' doomsayers have more grist for the mill thanks to a report from ESPN's Jayson Stark.
#Tigers are telling teams they're not optimistic about getting an extension done with Max Scherzer but have no plans to deal him.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 11, 2013
There are numerous reasons to take Stark's tweet about the 2013 AL Cy Young winner at face value. The Tigers are between the proverbial rock and a hard place in regard to Scherzer.
Schezer has Scott Boras as his agent, and the most hated agent in baseball will make sure his client gets the largest contract possible. There's no questioning this.
Both Scherzer and Boras have seen the insane amount of money being thrown around this off season. If Boras' client can even come close to replicating his 2013 season in 2014, Scherzer will get to sign one of those albatross contracts at this time next year. Fans will love the first half of Scherzer's contract, and would then beg the Tigers to unload it for pennies on the dollar for the duration of the back half.
There's only so many large contracts a team can handle. The Tigers already have Justin Verlander under contract until his age 37 season for $182 million dollars and will be on the hook for $28 million a season from 2015-2019. Anibal Sanchez isn't making chicken scratch either, with $82.2 million still on the books until 2018 (his age 34 season), making $16.8 million a year from 2015-2018. Owner Mike Ilitch is likely choking at the idea of a third starting pitcher making close to $20 million (or quite likely more) for the remainder of this decade. The Tigers desperately need to have their young, cost-controlled starting pitchers step up, such as Drew Smyly and Robbie Ray.
As good as Scherzer is, and he was great in 2013, he's only pitched like an "ace" for a season and a half. Scherzer's 2.90 ERA was the first full season of his career with an ERA lower than 3.50. There is plenty of room for regression, meaning 2013 could easily be Schezer's career season. He could end up being wildly overpaid when compared to actual production.
The Tigers may believe (and could very well be correct) Miguel Cabrera will be a better long-term investment than Scherzer and have plans to give him an extension worth an unimaginable amount of money. The two-time reigning AL MVP has a far longer, more proven track record, has a skill set which could age gracefully into his late 30s and is on track to arrive at the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. You can't yet say the same about Scherzer.
The Tigers aren't the Dodgers or the Yankees. Having just four players (Verlander, Sanchez, Scherzer and Cabrera) to eat up nearly $100 million of payroll for the rest of the decade may be too much to ask. That's not even taking into account currently cost-controlled players who will be due raises over the next couple of seasons.
So why didn't the Tigers trade Scherzer?
Other MLB teams aren't dumb. They know about the above listed reasons as well. Thus, other GM's saw Doug Fister as a better, cheaper investment. The Tigers also still believe the window is open to win a World Series in 2014 and a dominant Scherzer would play a very large part in any title run. Fans may have to accept the fact the Tigers will ride out Scherzer's final season and accept a draft pick in compensation when he moves on after becoming a extremely wealthy man in free agency.
Does the latest news on Scherzer equate future doom for the Tigers? GM Dave Dombrowski may believe allowing Scherzer to move on instead of locking him down to what could be a ridiculous contract in hindsight will ensure otherwise. Only time will tell if Dombrowski and the Tigers are correct.