Sherzer rejects ‘substantial' contract offer from Detroit
You sort of had the feeling that this is where the matter would end up.
Scott Boras clients tend to hit the open market of free agency, and that's where Max Scherzer is headed after talks with the Detroit Tigers on a contract extension were cut off Sunday morning.
That doesn't mean Scherzer's gone just yet, though.
"Don't worry," he told reporters Sunday morning. "Only worry when I actually sign somewhere else."
While the reigning American League Cy Young winner has said all along he was not going to negotiate into the season, unsurprisingly, though, it was the team that issued the statement that they were done negotiating.
"The Detroit Tigers have made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Max Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected," the team said in part, in an unusual news release Sunday morning. "Moving forward there will be no further in-season negotiation and the organization will refrain from commenting on this matter."
Even with the deadline of Opening Day, you had to figure that left a little over a week to get a deal done. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters Sunday that the team had imposed its own deadline of last Thursday, but no deal was reached.
"We made a substantial offer," Dombrowski said of the offer, the average annual value of which was reportedly more than $24 million, but slightly less than teammate Justin Verlander's $25.7 million per year, "and they didn't think it was enough."
Boras told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that it was the other way around: Scherzer's camp made the offer, and the Tigers refused it.
Either way, the issue is off the table until the offseason, when the 29-year-old Scherzer hits free agency, along with four teammates.
Scherzer has said all along that he wants to remain in Detroit.
"Well, that's everybody's strategy. Everybody wants to be a free agent. You ask any player, and they want to be a free agent. At the same time, you realize we have a good thing here in Detroit. We got a great team, great teammates, and so much talent, and a chance to win it all," he said as far back as the Winter Caravan.
"I'm comfortable here. I love being part of the Tigers.
"For me, this is the place I want to be, going forward. Hopefully we'll come to some terms on what we can do in the future. If it doesn't happen in the near-term, I'm sure we can get something done in the offseason.
He wasn't changing his tune Sunday, either, when it became public knowledge that no deal would get done this spring.
"This doesn't change anything. I still want to be in Detroit. I love this clubhouse and everything about it. There's been a history in the past of the team signing free agents, so hopefully I'm a part of that as well," Scherzer told reporters Sunday, including MLive's Chris Iott. "I'm here to win. I'm here to try to get a ring for (owner Mike Ilitch). That's what it's all about now. That's the No. 1 focus of it."
The prevailing theory in the offseason was that the Tigers' moves to trade away Prince Fielder -- which alone saved $76 million over the life of the contract -- and Doug Fister might have been to free up money to re-sign either Scherzer or Miguel Cabrera.
"That's one of the theories, but it might not be fact," Scherzer said.
It still might be true, considering the flexibility the Tigers will have, given the salaries coming off the books in the offseason, with Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez -- among others -- hitting free agency again.
Sunday's announcement doesn't mean Scherzer's gone, just yet.
It just means that the drama is postponed until next winter.
Matthew B. Mowery covers the Detroit Tigers and MLB for Digital First Media at The Oakland Press. Follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery.
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