The cameras and lights were all on Jordan Zimmermann on Monday afternoon, as the Tigers welcomed the latest star pitcher into their rotation at a press conference at Comerica Park. And while Zimmermann was the reason everyone came, Mike Ilitch made sure not all the attention was square on the Tigers new $100 million dollar arm.
Speaking afterwards to the media, Ilitch took an open forum of questions that mainly revolved around the departures of former star pitcher Max Scherzer and former President and GM Dave Dombrowski.
It was over a year ago that Scherzer declined the Tigers $144 million contract extension. And as Ilitch clarified on Monday, the two sides never stopped talking even after that happened. When Ilitch made his offer and it seemed as if Scherzer would take it, Max then called back asking for more money. “We made him an offer and it looked like he was going to take it, then all of the sudden he wanted a little bit more and it was a great number,” Ilitch told reporters. “It irked me a little bit. I figured, ‘how much do you want? I just asked you what you wanted.’ Then he tells me he wants more.” Sounds like Ilitch is a man of principle, and that move by Max didn’t fly.
As far as Dombrowski was concerned, it came down to results. While the Tigers were one of baseball’s best teams for a good chunk of the Dombrowski-era, they never won a World Series Championship. Ilitch said he made it clear he wasn’t going to offer Dombrowski an extension after the season because the team was looking for a different direction. After Dombrowski sold away the Tigers top trade valued players in Joakim Soria, Yoenis Cespedes, and David Price, he must have figured there wasn’t much left to do with the organization, and that’s when he decided to bolt for the door. Ilitch complimented Dombrowski as a person but said “I didn’t win with him,” as the main reason for there not being a renewed contract.