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max scherzer tigersJust a few days after word that talks between the Indians and free-agent-to-be Justin Masterson have broken down, there may be another upper tier arm projected to reach free agency after this season. And, outside of Clayton Kershaw, it’s the biggest would-be free agent.

The Tigers have taken the surprising step of today announcing – announcing – that Max Scherzer has rejected their latest extension offer, and there will be no further negotiations until the offseason. That means that Scherzer will reach free agency, joining a starting pitching class that could also include Masterson, James Shields, Jon Lester, and Kenta Maeda (if he’s posted), among others. Perhaps we’re now seeing a shift back in the other direction after so many extensions were inked earlier in the year.

The Tigers say that they made an offer that would have placed Scherzer among the top pitcher salaries in baseball, though it’s hard to know just how high that means. He does seem like a safe bet to clear $20 million per year, though.

As I’ve said before, the Cubs would seem to be in an intriguing place to land an upper tier arm or two next offseason, given the strong need, the rolled-over dollars that went unspent this year, and a probably-protected first round draft pick. There are obviously some financial issues to deal with, but revenue could be trending upward as soon as next year, and 30-years-old isn’t all that old if you’re trying to complement a burgeoning young position player base with a quality rotation.

Scherzer, who turns 30 in July, won the Cy Young in 2013 after posting a 2.90 ERA and a 4.29 K/BB. It’s been a swift ascent for Scherzer, who went from very good middle-of-the-rotation guy three years ago to a guy who posted 4.6 and 6.4 WAR seasons the last two years.

  • njmass

    If they had 20 million for Tanaka, they better have 20+ million for Scherzer

    • Steve

      So…would the natives think I were crazy if I suggested 4 years and…gulp…120 million + a few player / club options? ??

      If the brass are as committed to winning as they say….then that 2nd and 3rd year would put us right in the middle of contention, with a clear ACE, #1, or TOR pitcher, however you chose to look at it, with cost certainty, which is wholly important these days.
      What do you think the Tigers offered?? 5 and 100?? 6 and 120???
      With a 4 and 120, he can still get another contract, or our options could be at 30-35 per if he is still that shut down guy.
      I just dont want to see a 8 year 200 mill deal for a 30 year old.

  • The Real Wrigley

    You can bet that he’ll be looking for 5-7 years. A pitcher. Pass.

    • CubsFanSaxMan

      I tend to agree. Show him the money, but the years need to be reasonable. I’d stop at four.

  • Ballgame17

    Wow, is if just me or was that tweet from “Tigers PR” bad PR? Hey, we offered this guy a lot of $ but he still rejected it. A.k.a. It’s not our fault he didn’t re-sign. Just seems like they’re passing blame onto Scherzer which players could only take in a negative way. 6yrs, I’d take him. I don’t have his stats in front of me, but for his career doesn’t he have minimal mileage on his arm?

    • Eternal Pessimist

      I don’t see it quite the same. I have no problem on saying they were unable to reach agreement. I also initially thought it was a bad idea to say there will be no negotiation until after the offseason…why would they close the door to this?

      Maybe that is just their way of threatening to give him the one year offer and tie him to a compensation pick, which theoretically will lower the salary he can get in FA. If the Cubs are just looking at giving up a 2nd rounder they probably won’t care too much and would be happy to pay whatever they think he is worth at that time.

      • JadeBos

        I don’t think comp picks really effect top tier free agents.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Scherzer already said he’s closing down talks if they can’t come to an agreement by OD

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    Well then. So much for all that wailing and gnashing of teeth about there being no top tier starting pitchers next year.

    • Greenroom

      If I remember correctly, 1/2 people stated that none of the top SP’s would make it to free agency. Then the usual statement that never comes to fruition. “I will come back here and say I was wrong” …/taps foot

    • Kyle

      Scherzer, Masterson, Shields is an incredibly weak “top tier” pitching FA class. Scherzer is the only actually top-tier guy on that list.

      We may not be seeing the worst-case scenario, but don’t mistake that for it no longer being a problem.

      Of course, it’s all academic. Age will eliminate Shields and Scherzer from our serious consideration, and I look forward to an inspiring second-place finish on Masterson.

      • sethdiggs

        Incredibly weak – no. If you consider the likelihood of high caliber pitchers making it to free agency these days, then I’d say this type of talent is about as “top tier” as you’re going to get.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          You are both correct. Historically, this is not a stand-out FA pitching class. In the new world of early extensions, this class is going to be as good as it gets *unless* we see the classic “fox-hare” oscillation where the mints made by the few guys (e.g., David Price) foregoing extensions in favor of young free-agency convince many other pitchers to gamble that they can do the same.

          I can see this (and expect to see this, unless the next CBA is very different) happening for position players; however, pitchers have shorter half-lives compared to position players, and thus the risk of not making it to Young Free Agency while still pitching well will be too tempting. (Of course, that could get teams to stop extending young pitchers, too: oh, those foxes and hares….)

      • gocatsgo2003

        You do realize Schedzer is a whopping 8 months older than Masterson, yes?

        • Kyle

          Yes.

      • Orval Overall

        Meh, that’s a bit over the top. I don’t care what the class is — signing Scherzer would be a huge add to the 2015-19 time horizon. This isn’t like when CJ Wilson or Anibal Sanchez is the best pitcher available. It’s closer to having Greinke be the best available.

        Now, they need to be prepared to spend ridiculously to get him (as they should have been, but weren’t, for Tanaka), and the contract better be one that this entire board will immediately decry as an overpay (otherwise, we ain’t landing him), but either way, this is undeniably good news for this team.

        • brainiac

          there is no chance under any conditions that we will sign him. he’ll be too much, outside of the bracket that they’ve declared they’ll spend, and, of course “the team won’t be ready yet”. of course the team would be more ready if we signed him, but what does reason have to do with “the plan”, when it’s been hatched by an advertising agency.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    After the whole Tanaka affair I’ll believe it when I see it. We’ll be hearing “we’re all in on Scherzer” until the the yankees or Dodgers decide they want him.

  • TulaneCubs

    And don’t forget, Ervin Santana is now back on the market next offseason too.

    Obviously we never know if they’ll hold to this, but it seems like Fister and Masterson are done negotiating and will hit the market. Seems unlikely Shields will get an extension with the Royals, but if they’re out of it and deal him, he could sign with the team that acquires him. And who knows how Ervin Santana is viewing free agency after he tested it this year.

    I’d be pretty surprised if the Cubs don’t go after one of these guys and if Rasmus has another year like last year, he’s a really interesting guy to go after as well.

    • gocatsgo2003

      I don’t see how signing Rasmus to a long-term deal would fit. While he could likely play LF or CF, it would essentially be paying money for the privilege of blocking some of our better prospects, whether they are current OFs or not (Almora, Bryant, Olt, etc.).

      • TulaneCubs

        It’s fun to fill out lineups with all prospects, but it rarely turns out that way.

        Rasmus would only block someone if Soler, Bryant and Almora all make it to the bigs as elite prospects. And that assumes that not only are they still performing at a high level, but also that none of them were traded in the meantime for pitching or, in Bryant’s case, playing in the infield.

        • gocatsgo2003

          My point is that Rasmus will likely want a three- or four-year deal at the very least. Next year will probably be his best chance at cashing in on the free agent market at the age of 28. At that point, you’re looking at having to pay a significant premium to sign a relatively young OF AND run the risk of sitting with a player blocking a younger player in the next year or two. In combination, I don’t see how it makes much sense.

          • TulaneCubs

            I don’t think you can just sit back for 3 years and assume all of your position players will eventually fill in with prospects.

            Which is what you’re doing if you’re not even considering Rasmus next offseason.

            I’m not saying they’ll definitely sign him. But if he has another year like he did last year, I’d be surprised if they’re not mentioned with him and they don’t pursue him.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I’d be on board for Rasmus. His career numbers against right handers are quite nice, and he’d upgrade the team’s OBP regardless of what else he’d bring to the table.

              I haven’t looked over the lists yet to see if he’d by my first choice among the position players, but in general I’m fine with that idea.

            • gocatsgo2003

              No, but you also don’t want to go sign expensive free agents without taking into consideration the development timeline of your top players.

              I’m not saying I think they shouldn’t even look at Rasmus. I’m just saying that I’m of the opinion that the combination of the years and dollars he’s going to be looking for as well as the ripple effects of the signing through the minor league system make hjm a poor fit. My opinion, not gospel.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          And that’s the key point: you can trade blocked prospects for pitching or other position players.

          I, too, am intrigued by Rasmus. If I recall, then he’s the one OF in next year’s class that looks very appealing. He also is the one who will be young enough (only 28, I think!) where National League teams will be able to compete with American League teams in terms of years: even though the bidding probably might go past the time where Rasmus can play CF, he can downgrade to LF or RF rather than to DH.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Not surprising…Boras is not a fan of the long term extension without testing free agency. I’m sure the Tigers will get a chance to re-sign him still, but Boras will want Scherzer to set his value on the market first. I could see Scherzer asking for $25M per over 7-8 years…definitely going to be a Big Boy contract.

  • Jon

    IMO, the Cubs have to be considered favorites, to finish 2nd in the bidding

    • http://BN Sacko

      That’s about it isn’t it. Until we start putting something on the field to back these guys up I see us 2nd again like you say. In addition to the distraction of the structure rebuild.
      None of these prospects have taken a ML AB yet.

      • http://BN Sacko

        McDonald in the OF should be an appealing piece for those pitchers to consider.

        • VittersStartingLF

          Now that was funny Sacko

      • mjhurdle

        “Until we *offer the biggest contract* I see us 2nd again like you say”

        FTFY

        • http://BN Sacko

          that could also be a reason.
          what’s ftfy if it is what I think why?

          • Patrick W.

            Fixed that for you

            • http://BN Sacko

              i c

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3789/12860319963_cf4c0a7834_o.jpg[/img]

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    As was mentioned in that Cubs opus that Brett posted last week, if Thed want us to believe they’re goal is to be competitive at the tail end of the rebuild, then they HAVE to sign one, if not two, of the top crop of free agent starters.

    If they don’t then they will lose any of the remaining faith they might still have with fans. It’s great to building the system, which they have done remarkably well, but at some point you need to supplement with starters, especially if that’s the weak(er) spot in your system.

    And if you’re going to spend big on FA pitchers, it makes more sense to keep Shark, unless you are blown away by an offer that incudes a major league ready starter. At least in my opinion…

  • ssckelley

    I would have to think that the Cubs will look attractive to a free agent pitcher next off season. They have both money and young talent.

    • Greenroom

      I agree. People in baseball know what the Cubs will soon be bringing to the plate (pun intended).

      • NorthSideIrish

        Would also help if they could show prospective FAs the progress made on the under construction player facilities at Wrigley…

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “Young talent” often is not that appealing to ballplayers, or at least it seems not to be. Like many managers, ballplayers seem to want “proven veterans” for teammates. This comes up some years when teams in competition call up a hot prospect to fill a hole, and veterans will anonymously grumble to the press: “Team X traded for All Star Y, and we are bringing up some kid?!?!? Get us some veteran help!”

      Of course, if one of these guys does sign with the Cubs, then he’ll be gushing about how exciting it will be to play with up and coming All-Stars!

      • ssckelley

        Sure it is, pitchers want yo go somewhere they can win.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          It seems that most ballplayers do not and (given quoted attitudes throughout history) never have equated “young talent” and “they can win.” There are many possible reasons for this, including the idea that young players are unproven, the fact that every touted prospect yields far less than one good ballplayer, and even the fact that athletes themselves rarely are fans of the game: most of us here know a heck of a lot more about the Cubs farm system than do most of the Cubs players.

          So, if a pitcher wants to go somewhere he can win (and many do), then it’s a much harder to convince him that this bunch of players will be a winning team when he’s never heard of them than if he’s played against them already.

          • ssckelley

            Ok you win, free agents won’t come here.

            • Kyle

              They’ll come if we offer the most money. They won’t come because PROSPECTS!

              • ssckelley

                Weird, I don’t remember saying prospects. Young talent is what I said.

                • Kyle

                  And yet it amounts to the same thing in this specific case.

                  • ssckelley

                    No it does not, I never implied free agents would come here because of prospects.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Not necessarily. By the time the 2015 offseason rolls around the could have a pretty good young core in the majors. On top of Rizzo, Castro, and Castillo, it is quite possible the Cubs feature Olt, Baez, Bryant, Alcantara, and Vizcaino as well.

                    There will still be plenty of talent left in the minors, but odds look pretty good that the major league roster will have plenty of young talent of it’s own to show off to anyone who happens to be interested.

                    I doubt free agents will look past the dollar signs to see them, but they may well be there.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Make that the 2014/2015 offseason. Next winter.

                      Assuming it does stop snowing by then.

                      Which it might not.

                      /sigh

                    • Kyle

                      I’ll take the under on that list all being in the majors on Sept. 30, 2014.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Shall we call you Luke Stark from now on? (Of course, that could be tantamount to a pre-obituary….)

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Not sure I get the reference, but if it comes with his paycheck, go for it!

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      1) Game of Thrones. (“Winter is Coming”);

                      2) Usually it comes with a knife in the back when you are trying to do the right thing.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Yep. Totally missed that one.

                      I haven’t actually watched or read that series yet. Yet being the keyword. I’ll pick those books up once I find enough time to dive into them.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Also, it is not that FAs won’t come to the Cubs or any other team that can offer only hope for a good future rather than a good product now: it is just that the Cubs have a tougher sell.

              The Cubs have other “tough sell” aspects, too. The facilities at Wrigley are known to be pretty bad. A lot of players (both on and off of the Cubs) have suggested that the Cubs herky-jerk day/night schedule takes a big toll on players. And, of course, any pitcher who had the misfortune of pitching on a “wind blowing out” day on which “popups” were HRs might well remember that instead of the titanic blasts that stayed in the park on “wind blowing in” days.

              But all any of that means is that the Cubs are a slightly tougher sell than are other teams: tough sell ≠ impossible sell.

              As for the “young talent” vs. “prospects” dichotomy, Kyle hits the main points. I would phrase it slightly differently: the issue is “proven” vs. “unproven”: and I had assumed that you were referring to “unproven but potentially very good” when you wrote “young talent.” Established young talent = established talent.

              • brainiac

                i think this is right – plus that the team will have to beat best market prices just slightly to win bidding in the immediate future. if theo is only willing to pay under market value and has a player-as-revolving-door policy, we’re simply never going to sign a major player again. the team will be seen as player unfriendly and built to fail.

                there’s a steep incline coming when the team is ready to improve after years and years of unnecessary elective failure, but by 2018 they should at least be decent enough that we won’t have to apologize to strangers for being a fan again.

              • ssckelley

                I am counting on some of this young talent to start being called up this year. Next year there should be even more. Everybody in baseball sees a bright future for the Cubs. Being part of that is a nice secondary benefit of coming to Chicago, the primary being money.

      • Greenroom

        I did not mean to suggest the “Possible” talent coming up would be the sole reason that free agents would come here. Furthermore, relative to other SP’s, the few guys discussed would be ToR guys, yet they are not Kershaw. All I’m reading lately is GM’s, etc are complimenting the Cubs on their plan which to some extent, agents and FA must hear as well. Is it a simple cause and effect, of course not. And I agree, it has traditionally been “get us some veterans” has been the model. But to completely discount the plan and the new facilities seems to miss the mark as well. $ wins. I will temper my optimism. The Cubs won’t sign anyone.

  • sethdiggs

    Man, two of the aforementioned and another year of development and separation for our minor league pitching talent; throw in Javy, a good year from Olt, and Rizzo/Castro playing like they can – the mindset at this time next year could start to resemble something like legitimate hope.

  • Fastball

    If any of these pitchers get to free agency they will be so expensive the Cubs will be also ran in the bidding as usual. The dollars and lack of a lineup won’t attract these guys. Not a single one of our prospects has played an inning in the big league. I don’t think Rickety has or will have the money next year to go all the way on a free agent of this caliber. He would rather buy a Chevy Tahoe instead of a Range Rover. He could buy it but is afraid of the payments in my opinion. I am willing to bet he doesn’t spend until those new revenues are actually in the bank. Realistically is going to be 2017 season before we have a chance to win our division. 2014 is a Baez calypso, 2015 maybe two or the more, 2016 they start playing over. 500 and 2017 the may push it over the top.

    • Funn Dave

      “Not a single one of our prospects has played an inning in the big league.”

      Well that isn’t true. I mean, just for example, Vizcaino did a little relief work in the Majors while he was with the Braves, right?

    • sethdiggs

      The complexion of our lineup, both in terms of the actual roster (Baez, Olt, Rizzo, Castro all playing well) and the nearing call-ups of other core prospects, could be much more enticing by the time free agent pitchers consider it as a variable. If Masterson proves last year wasn’t an outlier, which I fully believe he will, I think he’ll be too attractive to let pass. The likelihood of two of these guys – probably not the greatest. And although your timeline of competitiveness is probably more realistic, if things can fall together, I know I’ll finally be hanging on every game.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Jayson Stark reporting the Tigers offer to Scherzer was slight below Verlander’s $25.7 M per but more than $24M. Doesn’t say home many years but that is a large AAV.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Wow Scherzer is taking a huge risk and gamble on himself $24M per season is a lot to pass up. My guess is Tigers offered only 4yrs

  • Funn Dave

    Woah, a blogger who actually knows when to use “complement” as opposed to “compliment.” It’s official: I’m a fan.

    -BNGN

  • TulaneCubs

    Jerry Crasnick reporting that Boras said the Tigers rejected Scherzer’s offer, not the other way around.

  • JL82

    Pass on Scherzer. He pitches in a pitchers friendly park. No wonder his numbers got better. After he got there. I would lean more towards Shields.

    • Drew7

      Scherzer’s ERA in 2013:

      Home: 3.55
      Away: 2.28

      • Drew7

        Career splits for FIP and WHIP also slightly better at away parks as well.

        Hmm…

      • mjhurdle

        ya, but if you take away the fact that he pitches better away from Detroit, then it is totally true that he is only good because he pitches in Detroit and we should pass on him. :)

        • DarthHater

          Fangraphs’ “Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA),” which is park-adjusted, ranks Scherzer as the sixth best pitcher in baseball last season, after only Harvey, Darvish, Felix, Lee, and Sale.

  • Porkslap

    This is great news. After Bailey got extended I was convinced none of these TOR type pitchers would make it to free agency. The Cubs will definitely land at least one of Shields, Masterson, or Scherzer, assuming they make it to free agency. My only fear is the trade and extend, which I see as a real possibility for Masterson and Shields.

    David Price also is an option, although the Cubs would have to give up at least one of Baez, Almora, or Bryant, coupled with another top ten organizational prospect. Could be worth it if he rebounds and is healthy in 2014. Would Almora and Vogelbach net one year of David Price? I would think maybe. Here’s hoping the cubs sign TWO of Shields Masterson and Scherzer, and keep the core prospects here. 2015!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Cleveland should have playoff aspirations this year, so barring an early season collapse I doubt they deal Masterson for anything.

      Shields… hard telling what Kansas City will do. I suspect they’ll keep him if they think they can make the postseason, but I’m not sure what would qualify as “can make the postseason” in their book. If that team is within 5 or 6 games in mid-July, they may hold on to Shields and load up to make a run.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I’m not sure if I were the Cubs if I’d go over 5 years $120million. 6yrs at the complete max. We’d only be getting 1-2 years of the end if his prime if the Cubs signed him

    • brainiac

      i agree completely, though this kind of thinking also contributes to our indignant spiral of failure mentality.

      • gocatsgo2003

        Wait… you agree that you wouldn’t spend money like that, but that kind of thinking is somehow an “indignant spiral of failure mentality?” Wha?

        • brainiac

          that’s exactly right. wont spend/need to spend to win/get angry at losing/lash out at players and the rooftops/say the team is already built to win anyway/attack Kyle for a while. that’s how things work here.

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