The Tigers announced that they have extended qualifying offers to Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez, both of whom are now free agents. If accepted, the qualifying offer is expected to be valued at $15.3 million for the 2015 season. Both players are expected to decline the offer, allowing them to field offers from other teams in free agency.
Max Scherzer won the 2013 Cy Young award after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA that season. He led the American League in wins for the second year in a row, compiling an 18-5 record in 2014. Scherzer's ERA declined slightly to 3.15, but he struck out a career-high 252 batters in 220 1/3 innings, also a career best. Scherzer's 2.85 FIP was ninth in the AL among qualified starting pitchers, and nearly identical to the 2.75 FIP he posted in 2013.
Victor Martinez enjoyed the best offensive season of his career in 2014, hitting .335/.409/.565 with a career-high 32 home runs and 103 RBI. He was worth 4.4 WAR as a designated hitter, the highest total for a DH since David Ortiz's 6.2 WAR season in 2007. Martinez also spelled Miguel Cabrera occasionally at first base, but rated as a below average defender.
Martinez was in the final season of a four year, $50 million contract. He has reiterated his desire to remain in Detroit, but is also reportedly seeking a four year contract. Scherzer turned down a six year, $144 million contract offer prior to the 2014 season. The move was seen as a gamble at the time, but it will likely pay off this winter as Scherzer is viewed by many as the best free agent available.
If both Scherzer and Martinez turn down the qualifying offer, as expected, the Tigers will be in line to receive a compensatory draft pick in the 2015 draft if either player signs with another team. The draft pick will be sandwiched between the first and second rounds of the draft.