After turning down big contract, Scherzer is banking on having a big season and hitting the open market

Shawn-Livererance-Column-logo-Max Scherzer rolled the dice heading into the season and so far it appears to be a solid bet.

Two starts into the new season and it looks as if Scherzer has picked right back up at a Cy Young level.

The reigning American League Cy Young award winner has yet to earn a decision, but he has pitched very well.

He has tossed 15 innings, allowing two runs, with 15 strikeouts and a 1.20 ERA.

Let’s hope this continues. I am a big Max Scherzer fan and I’m hoping he will have another big season for the Tigers.

With that said, I think he made a big mistake turning down the deal the Tigers offered before the regular season got underway.

The right-hander rejected a lucrative six-year deal and agreed to a one-year contract worth $15,525,000.

Scherzer is scheduled to become a free agent after the season and hopes to attract even more money than the Tigers offered.

Sources said the Tigers’ offer to Scherzer was for a slightly lower figure than the $25.7 million per year that teammate Justin Verlander received in the extension he signed last spring, but still would have placed Scherzer among the top six highest-paid pitchers in baseball.

That would mean the offer would have averaged at least $24 million a year.

The only pitchers currently earning that much or more are Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, ($30.7 million per year), Verlander, the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez ($25 million per year), the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke ($24.5 million per year), the New York Yankees’ CC Sabathia ($24.4 million per year), and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee ($24 million per year) and Cole Hamels ($24 million per year).

All of those pitchers have more impressive resumes than Scherzer’s. That’s  why I think he took a huge risk turning down Detroit’s contract offer. He would have been smart to overrule his agent, the infamously greedy Scott Boras.

Boras maintained that it was the Tigers who rejected Scherzer’s offer, and agreed that talks were over until after the season.

The Tigers countered by saying they made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected.

Either way a long-term extension will not be discussed during the regular season, and it is now almost certain that Scherzer will test the free agency market, something Boras typically encourages his clients to do..

I highly doubt Scherzer will do any better than what the Tigers offered. Right now, he’s a pitcher coming off a career year and a Cy Young award. This season? Who knows.

Yes, he is a swing-and-miss pitcher with great stuff, but he had never won more than 16 games or thrown 200 innings before 2013.

He finished with a 2.90 ERA last season, but prior to that he finished with 3.74, 4.43, 3.50 and 4.12 ERA’s in the four full seasons.

And, don’t forget Scherzer received the most run support of any pitcher in Major League Baseball last season.

It is difficult for any pitcher to repeat extraordinary success partly because they are not consistent and partly because there is so much that affects their production that is beyond their control.

If Scherzer gets another 20 wins and sub-3.00 ERA, he’s going to get the contract him and Boras are looking for.

But, if Scherzer has an average year, he will likely find he’s not the No. 1 pitcher on the market and won’t come close to getting offers like the one he rejected.

I have a feeling that if Scherzer was negotiating his own deal, he would have been signed by now and set for a long career as a Tiger. Instead he’s rolling the dice and gambling.

I am crossing my fingers for Scherzer this season. A disastrous season or serious injury would hurt not only him financially, but could cripple the Tigers this season.

And if Max is headed out the door next fall, this season may be the Tigers’ last chance to win a World Series for quite a few seasons.

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