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Former Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer discusses reasons for signing with Nationals

Former Tigers starter Max Scherzer recently spoke about his decision to sign with the Nationals, the moves he and Rick Porcello saw coming, and Victor Martinez's injury.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Not every aspect of the game of baseball is appealing, but any player who enters into the game knows it. Former Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer knew it. So when free agency became a reality, Scherzer approached the sport from a business standpoint and what would be in his best interests for the foreseeable future.

Any club would do the same, and of the teams that approached Scherzer, he went with the one he thought had the best shot at a World Series title. It wasn't that Scherzer didn't believe the Tigers could win one, Detroit was not on that list because a second offer was never made, the former Tiger told WDFN's morning host Matt Shepard on Friday in an on-air interview.

"I never once said Detroit couldn't win, I actually do think Detroit can win," Scherzer told Shepard. "Detroit has a very good ball club and they're going to be a tough team in the American League. They just weren't one of the teams in the final — there was a point in time where we reached out to the Tigers to see if they were still interested and they conveyed to us that they weren't. They were fine with where their rotation was at moving forward and that was kind of how we left it."

Scherzer made it clear he didn't want any interruptions when the 2014 season got underway, and if he and the Tigers were unable to reach an agreement, no contract discussions would take place.

After the Tigers offered Scherzer a reported $144 million and the offer was turned down, that was the end of it. It was never discussed during the season because, as Scherzer said many times, he didn't want the distraction.

The goal in 2014 was to focus on the season and make a run for a World Series championship. What Scherzer wasn't expecting was to see both himself and Rick Porcello leave the team in the same offseason, even though two years ago they knew some form of change was in the works.

"We saw where everybody was at in their contracts, we sat there and realized hey this team is gonna get a major facelift over in the next two years," Scherzer said. "There's just no way you can keep everybody on board. We looked at each other and, which one of us is gonna go? We had no idea what was going to unfold in the next two years but we knew as players, we knew there was gonna be roster turnover just because."

Scherzer looked at his free agency opportunity from a business aspect. A side that is often less-desirable to think about because of the lasting effects it can have on the players, a team, and the fans. Scherzer understood that aspect and explained that apart from wanting to win, there was a desire to take advantage of a unique opportunity.

"I realize how fortunate I am and how blessed I am to be in this position. This was never about greed or I need more money per se, it was about a business decision and trying to maximize what you're worth," Scherzer said. "For me, I was in a position to take full advantage of that. Obviously the Nationals came through and put a contract offer in front of me that was jaw dropping.

"It's the business part of the game, the business part of the game is ugly. Look at it from the other side I've seen so many of my friends get cut and released and all taken advantage of, because at the end of the day it's part of the game. I just took advantage of the business side of the game to benefit me."

"I never once said Detroit couldn't win, I actually do think Detroit can win."-Max Scherzer

Soon after Scherzer joined the Nationals as their number one starter, he took out a full page ad in the Detroit Free Press, thanking fans for their support while he was with Detroit. The ad was met with mixed reviews, but Scherzer said the gesture was only meant as a way to sincerely thank the fans.

"I understand it but you can't please everybody," he said. "I'm over trying to please everybody. It was from me personally trying to say look, my time in Detroit was absolutely special, something I'll never forget. I've had some of the best moments of my career, in my entire life, really, there in Detroit. I just wanted to take the chance and put it out and say look I really thank everybody who was a fan of me and appreciated watching me, it was very much appreciated and something I'll never forget."

Scherzer also discussed his new team and his impressions about returning to the National League, which will require him to bat every fifth day once again. Here are some of the other subjects that Scherzer discussed.

  • On reuniting with Nationals manager Matt Williams: "I've been with Matt obviously when I was coming up (playing with Double-A Mobile of the Diamondbacks' system). Just looking for a sense of accountability, just walking into the Nationals clubhouse [knowing] that that wouldn't be a major problem in the clubhouse. Knowing him from the past I know he can run a really good clubhouse and I felt very comfortable having him be my manager."
  • Regarding when Scherzer was pulled late in games while with the Tigers: "I've never complained about being pulled or anything like that. When I did have a 100 pitch game or the previous three times I've gone above 115, and I think everyone thinks why can't you continue to go at 115 pitches? You can't, your arm just gets so fatigued and tired. I'm going until where I'm done and the manager always made the right call."
  • About the quality of the Nationals rotation that Scherzer joined: "The only thing I can really say, on paper it looks good. I gotta see these guys up close and personal to see what they can bring to the table. I know what I saw in Detroit and I got to learn and watch every single guy go about their business. I tried to emulate one thing from everybody. That's what it looks like I'll be able to do in Washington as well. Unbelievably talented rotation. You just sit back and watch every single night and watch what they do. Try to pick apart what they do well and try to emulate different things they're able to do and try to get better yourself."
  • On Victor Martinez's knee injury, which Scherzer did not know about at the time Shepard told him: "He's such an unbelievable presence at the plate because he can actually command the count. Detroit has a ton of talent in their clubhouse, plenty of guys that can step up. So I really don't see Detroit even missing a beat. I know Victor really well. I know how hard he works, how much he wants to be out there so bad. So I know he'll do anything it takes to get back out there."

Scherzer's complete interview can be heard here.