The deadline for the Masahiro Tanaka bidding is Friday (February 24), but the Detroit Tigers aren’t one of the teams reportedly preparing a top-dollar contract offer. According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs are ready to throw down a huge offer, but the Yankees and Dodgers are probably in the mix as well.
Going into the weekend one major league source told ESPNChicago.com that the Cubs were willing to go as high as $25 million per year for between 6-8 years. Another source indicated the years were right but the price was lower. Both agreed the Yankees would be the stiffest competition unless the Los Angeles Dodgers blew everyone away at the last minute.
The Tigers were always a long shot for Tanaka, but I think we all knew the reality of the situation, and that is that Detroit really isn’t in a position to add another monster contract. They’ve been willing to expand the payroll in recent years, but never to the Yankees-Dodgers level, and all indications this offseason point to the franchise transitioning to a more sustainable model.
While Kershaw’s extension breaks Verlander’s record, it should also help Max Scherzer break the bank, whether in Detroit or elsewhere.
It does nothing, of course, to help the Tigers, whose challenge of trying to keep its dominant rotation intact looks as difficult — and expensive — as ever. And it’s not one that will necessarily be solved soon.
The Tigers have indicated that they’d like to try to work out a long-term deal with Scherzer*, but it would surprise no one if the Scott Boras client was intent on testing the market. Max isn’t heading for a record-breaking deal, but neither would he (or his agent) appear to be inclined to give the Tigers any sort of discount.
*Though it’s not clear if they’re being sincere or if they simply don’t want to sour the mood one of their star pitchers ahead of his final season of team control.
Scherzer’s $8.8 million jump in salary from $6.7 million in 2013 to $15.5 million in 2014 represents the largest arbitration-eligible raise in league history (the previous record was $5.9 million). At this point, with Max’s 2014 salary set and a season of unknowns ahead, the Tigers would be better off holding off on all negotiations with Scherzer until the end of the season.
The Tigers agreed to terms with five of their six remaining arbitration eligible players on Friday, with Alex Avila being the lone holdout. I would be surprised if the two sides let this play out for very long, but if no contract agreement can be reached, the two sides would have to present their case before an arbitrator who would have to pick either the Tigers’ $3.75 million offer or Avila’s $5.35 million request (no middle ground).