Detroit Tigers Dilemma: Max Scherzer Edition


As any Detroit Tigers fan has known for the past few seasons, Max Scherzer is a very good pitcher who helps make the Tigers starting rotation one of the strongest in baseball. The national media has jumped on board the Scherzer train and many analysts were predicting that Mad Max would be one of the next pitching superstars. With the season Scherzer is having thus far, it seems as if those analysts may hit the nail on the head this year. The combination of strong pitching and an arbitration contract that runs only through the end of this season, he will be a free agent at the end of next season and is eligible once again for arbitration at the end of this season, makes for a dilemma for the Tigers at 2014 seasons end. The dilemma is do the Tigers hang on to Scherzer or do  they lose one of their strongest pitchers to free agency  or a trade due to other contract obligations? It is noted that we are still over a season and a half until this situation arises, but it is never too early to look and what is facing the Tigers.

While it is no secret that the Tigers would love to hang on to Scherzer and sign him to a long term contract, it just does not seem as if they will have the ability to with all of the other contracts. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what is going to put the Tigers in this situation at the end of the 2014 season.

Max Scherzer will enter his next start as one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. Scherzer currently sits with an 8-0 record in twelve starts this season which is second in the American League in win totals trailing only Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. Scherzer’s 100 strikeouts is good for third in the American League and is tops in a very strong Tigers rotation. Max has also been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Tigers this season. Scherzer has gone less than seven innings only once in his past eight starts and has gone at least eight innings in five starts this season. He has also been able to lower his ERA from a 4.02 in April to the current ERA of  3.24 thanks to a 3.00 ERA in May and a 1.24 ERA through one start so far here in June. Scherzer is well on his way to winning twenty games for the first time in his career and through point there is no doubt that he will garner some Cy Young votes.

While Scherzer’s stats are no doubt impressive and warrant a big pay raise and long term deal in the futire, it may be impossible for the Tigers to offer it to him leading to one of their strongest starting pitchers to depart via trade after this season or free agency after next season. This is all because of the Tigers current contract situation and the need to sign a couple other key players within the next two years.

At this point, the Tigers currently have three $20 million players on their payroll in Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera. Added onto that is the fact that the Tigers just signed starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to a five year contract worth $88 million in the past offseason and you have around $85 million being spent on four players alone. The Tigers will also need to  sign Cabrera to a contract extension, and they are reportedly close to doing so, which could total in the $150-200 million range with his contract being up at the end of 2016. Doug Fister will also be a free agent at the end of the 2015 season and the Tigers may feel that Fister will be the cheaper option while still giving them a strong starting pitcher. Contracts may be the most limiting factor when it comes to the decision on what to do with Max Scherzer.

It would be hard to imagine that Scherzer would receive less than $15 million per season on the open market, especially with Scott Boras as his agent. Boras and the Tigers have a long history when it comes to signing players, and Boras may feel that he could sell Scherzer to the Tigers for far more than $15 million per season and if not, could easily get just as much, if not more, on the open market. If that is the case, the Tigers may simply not be able to afford to keep Max Scherzer past next season.

If the Tigers feel that they cannot keep Scherzer in the Olde English D long term, it may be in their best interest to trade him at the end of this season for a package of young players and to sign Doug Fister to the long term contract. A lot of what happens in the Scherzer saga is dependent on how the Tigers fare this season. If the Tigers are to go on and win the World Series, would it make it easier for them to trade Scherzer to get some more youth in the system? If the Tigers fail to win the World Series, would the Tigers feel more inclined to hold onto Scherzer as they continue to chase that elusive World Series Championship? What do you think Nation, what do you think the Tigers will end up doing with one of their best starting pitchers?

-Brett D’Angelo


About Author

Oakland University graduate and die hard fan of all Detroit sports, though I am more of a Red Wings fan than anything.

  • Jake Goodwin

    we need him he’s one of our top dogs

  • Courtney Young

    They better “show him the $$$” seeing as how he is the main one getting the job done as far as the starters go!

  • Eric Eazy E Posa

    he’s gonna stay this isn’t hockey or football where you can’t keep them illitch has shown he’s gonna spend as he did on anibal unless he gets a ridiculous deal that isn’t worth him staying he’ll be a long term tiger

  • Saviu Sleewa

    he better stay! I wanna buy his jersey but i won’t unless he stays here! show him the respect he has earned it!!!

  • Mike Dudzinski

    should have never resign sanchez cause we are going to need the money for miggy a jackson fister and max very soon

  • Chris Norman

    We will pay to keep this young nucleus together.

  • Paul Anderson

    they should pay him. and pay him now dont wait til the end of the season

  • Tim King Jr.

    If we win a World Series he’ll be gone cause the money elsewhere will be too large. But we’re going to need him if we’re going to win it all.

  • Bryan Monica Mardis

    Gotta pay that $$$ to keep him!!! Must

  • Sean McNamara

    I’d hope they want to show him the money…But with the pitchers we have as starters, relief and closer not sure how their salary cap will play into it. That all said, this has nothing to do with Illitch. It falls to who he hired to do this job, and I have a LOT of faith in Dave Dombrowski. We’ll have to wait this out sadly.

  • Jennifer Addington

    It would not surprise me that they let him be a free agent!

  • Danny Walker Jr.

    He’s gotta get more than Sanchez.

  • Russell Thornton

    Scherzer must stay put!! He is too Good to let walk away!!

  • Jim Boothe

    Sanchez has been outstanding! Anyone suggesting that Sanchez should not have been re-signed, has not been paying attention to what he’s been doing lately.
    That said, they need to find a way to keep Max, and the most important thing, to re-sign Miggy!!!

  • Davey Pants

    hmm IF we win a ring this year i could see them MAYBE cutting him loose with Smyly and Alvarez ready in the wings to start, BUT he’s been so extra-ordinarily good so far, one of the best in baseball…that would be very hard to let happen.

  • Melissa Kaye

    They better keep him!!!!

  • Jacqueline Collins

    As Scherzer as the Sun rises and sets in the sky, it would behoove the organization to consider the contribution he has made thus far.

  • Detroit Sports Nation

    Super tough situation. With JV and Sanchez already signed for a while, Tigers have some thinking to do with Scherzer and Fister. They realistically can’t afford $80 million a year on 4 starting pitchers, plus another $60M with Prince & Miggy. If Scherzer keeps this up, he’ll be a $15-20M a year kind of pitcher. Mr Ilitch’s pockets are deep…but we’re about to find out just how deep they are. IMO.

  • Detroit Sports Nation

    They won’t want to be bogged down with big contracts though. Assuming Scherzer signs for $15 mil per season, that would be over $100 million committed to only 5 players over the next 5+ seasons. As these players get older, that could spell trouble for the Tigers.

  • Detroit Sports Nation

    For the record, I say they keep him. Can’t trade a guy that’s having a Cy Young-like season when the Tigers have proven nothing in the playoffs lately. They gotta win the big games, ie. World Series games. Could move Porcello to the bullpen & having 4 #1 starters come October is HUGE.

  • Melissa Kaye

    Hopefully Mr. I will keep him around…..but, you are right SN they have alot of big money players at this time. But, for the record I say keep them all. :) LOL

  • Jim Boothe

    Illitch’s pockets are not nearly as deep as those of some of the AL EAST teams, or Texas, or the Cubs, or the two LA teams!

  • Jennifer Addington

    They didn’t really want him this year because it took them all winter to resign him!

  • Davey Pants

    Porcello is still very expendable in my eyes, he’s doing good NOW but, to me thats just increasing his trade value, specially now seeing Alvarez pitch yesterday.

  • Ryan St Onge

    Tigers can always test a minor league pitcher like Alvarez next year instead of spending all that money. I feel the tigers have a few decent starters in their minors.

  • Sean McNamara

    ewww. That puts my salary cap questions into perspective so thanks for that, but you mention 4 pitchers, Verlander is the only pitcher at or over the $20m mark, what other 2 pitchers are tripling their salary? (My numbers taken from

  • Anthony Pernicano

    They better if they want to win a world series because verlander isnt getting it done

  • Ismaeal X Naji

    KEEP HIM!!!

  • Ann Marie Chamberlain

    With his record – Tigers would be stupid to trade him!

  • Mario Pages

    Detroit overall is way too loyal to players. Illitch would give him part of his house if he had to. Remember he’s dying and is willing to spend whatever. He wants a ship and he’s not gonna give one of the best pitchers right now

  • Joel Alston

    They need to work on his contract now, he’s the second best pitcher on the roster.

  • Mark Morin

    They need to resign him and possibly trade away Sanchez to save $$$ and move smiley into the rotation. Then you still have two super studs and a solid 3 and 4.

  • Geordie Paul

    you actually need to be legally retarded not to sign him.

  • Daniel Plocher

    If we trade him I will shoot myself he is cy young award winner status right now

  • Kyler Wilbeck

    Dont trade him resign him trade someone like porcello for a prospect and maybe some cash or just cash to help sign Scherzer

  • Dewey John Schreuder

    He’s our Dan Petry we need him

  • Detroit Sports Nation

    Next year, Sanchez’s hit goes up to $15.8, then $16.8 until 2017.

  • Joe Fabiano

    Keep him….He is a great pitcher!

  • Paul Anderson

    he’s got a chance to build a dynasty, he cant afford to not pay the roster and reap the rewards of financial kickbacks by being on TV more including playoffs

  • Jennifer Addington

    rather see them work on find better arms for our bull pen!

  • Jennifer Addington

    Also need a closer that won’t give you a heart attack every time he’s out!

  • Corey Schrenk

    They better retain him

  • Robert Hoover

    The tigers will be in big trouble because we will have all these high paid players and yet we will still have no world series! I sorry but dumbrowski is an idiot and what makes you think he will make the right decision then when our bull pen over the years has been terrible and yet does nothing to fix it! I would rather give up a big contract for a solid bullpen

  • Paul Rogers

    Yes Jennifer…. Fernando Valverde who is the Dunkin Donuts Doughboy is a Joke !! Scherzer is one of the Best !! A no brainer just like a decision on what to do with the Doughboy, another no brainer !!

  • Byron Hatch

    He is a Tiger!!!!

  • Pamela Brown

    think he wants to stay deal will be made

  • Tony Donadio

    Robert Hoover how can you say Dombtowski is an idiot when he brought all these great players to Detroit???? Seriously!!! From all the infield…that was brought in by Dombrowski to Jackson, Hunter in the outfield to Scherzer sanchez coke and Val verde although he isn’t good now he was super for three years. Plus he drafted Verlander!! What more do you want… Maybe be we should be looking at Leyland as the one who is not pulling his weight!! Dombrowski is one of the best GMS in baseball!!

  • Valerie Anne Steyer-Serio

    Would love to see scherzer stay…we pay everyone else big dollars. He deserves it, too!

  • Sandy Glisman

    If they let him go, they are nuts! Mad Max is awesome’

  • Sara Young

    Keep Max! He needs more credit for what he does, other pitchers get all the credit.

  • JoAnn Thompson Pogoreski

    Well, I sure hope Dombrowski doesn’t let Max slip through his fingers. He has risen high above JV. Would be a huge mistake not to resign this young man. I say give him a LONG-TERM contract!

  • Barbara Lyon

    I certainly hope so. There are enough problems with the bullpen so we don’t need any stumbling blocks in the rotation. Keep him and get rid of Fielder.