As we read earlier, the Detroit Tigers released a statement saying that Max Scherzer had rejected their “substantial” contract extension offer, and the negotiations would be halted until the end of the season. At the time we didn’t know what the offer was, but Jon Morosi and his sources have since clued us in.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 23, 2014
Perhaps apropos of nothing: that would be the same money as Prince Fielder would be making from 2015-2020 (the last six years of the original contract he signed with the Tigers).
I’m actually surprised that the Tigers were willing to go up to six years, but this is not an altogether surprising offer, and it’s not surprising the Max Scherzer turned it down. Detroit doesn’t have much incentive to offer the moon at this point, and Scherzer doesn’t have much reason to accept anything other than a top-dollar bid.
It does appear to be a reasonably fair offer, but if Scherzer’s 2014 season is anything close to his 2013 season, he’ll $3-4 million tacked on to the average annual value or a seventh guaranteed year (or perhaps both).
Justin Verlander, for example, will earn $162 million in the final six years of the deal he signed before the 2013 season (2015-2020, assuming the final option year vests). If Max posts back-to-back Cy Young caliber seasons, he should be in line to earn something similar (considering Verlander’s deal was signed two years out).
But the Tigers don’t need to put themselves in the position of paying for a perennial Cy Young Award pitcher when they’re not yet sure that that’s what they have on their hands with Scherzer. If he’s going to ask for that kind of money now, the Tigers are better of waiting until the season is over, extending him a qualifying offer, and then gauging how the rest of the market reacts to Scherzer’s free agency. At worst they’ll get a first-round compensation pick out of it.