Extension Candidate: Max Scherzer

The Tigers and Max Scherzer agreed to a 2012 salary of $3.75MM yesterday, but the negotiations won’t necessarily end there, since extension season is just beginning. Last year, for example, 24 players signed extensions between the date arbitration numbers were exchanged and the end of April. Just one of those players was a client of the Boras Corporation — Scherzer's agency — but the possibility of an extension exists for the 27-year-old right-hander nevertheless.

Max Scherzer - Tigers

Gio Gonzalez and Justin Masterson are two of the first-time arbitration eligible pitchers who most closely resemble Scherzer. Gonzalez (38-32, 3.93 ERA in 535 1/3 innings) Masterson (28-38, 3.92 ERA in 613 2/3 innings) and Scherzer (36-35, 3.92 ERA in 617 innings) all have similar numbers from a career standpoint. However, Scherzer's platform season ERA of 4.43 exceeded the 2011 marks Gonzalez and Masterson posted by more than a run. Gonzalez recently signed a five-year, $42MM extension and Masterson is another candidate for a long-term deal.

Gonzalez and Masterson aren’t the only pitchers who resemble Scherzer. The Tigers right-hander has numbers that resemble the ones John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Matt Garza and Johnny Cueto had when they became arbitration eligible for the first time. The various contracts those pitchers signed offer insight into Scherzer’s future earning power.

A four-year deal worth slightly more than $30MM could work for both sides, I believe. Recent deals for the pitchers above suggest a deal between Scherzer and the Tigers might look like this: $3.5MM in 2012, $6MM in 2013, $8MM in 2014, $12MM in 2014 and a modest buyout for one or two additional club option seasons. A guaranteed four-year total in the $30MM range would eclipse Cueto’s $27MM deal and while it wouldn’t reach Gonzalez’s $42MM mark, that may not be realistic for a pitcher with Scherzer’s 2011 ERA. 

The Tigers would extend their control of Scherzer and cap his earnings by buying out his arbitration seasons and at least one year of free agency. Tigers starters Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Doug Fister and Jacob Turner are all under team control through 2014 or later and extending Scherzer would keep the group in place for even longer. While there are risks associated with every pitcher extension, the 2006 first rounder has made 30-plus starts in both of the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Scherzer would obtain multiyear security and extend his stay with the 2011 AL Central champs.  

Advanced metrics such as xFIP (3.70), FIP (4.14) and SIERA (3.63) suggest Scherzer's 2011 ERA of 4.43 was higher than expected for someone with his peripheral stats. If the statistically-minded hurler is willing to gamble on similar health and improved luck in 2012, his extension prospects might look considerably better a year from now. But if Scherzer is willing to sign before the season and the Tigers are looking to lock him up, a four-year deal in the $30MM range seems fair.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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20 Comments on "Extension Candidate: Max Scherzer"


JacksTigers
3 years 6 months ago

I think I would wait and see if he can bounce back first before giving him an extension.

dskirsa
3 years 6 months ago

Bounce back from what and to what? His low ERA had a bit more to do with bad luck considering his peripherals were more or less in line with what to expect out of him.  I certainly don’t expect him to be the ace he was once projected to be…that ship already sailed.  I think he is what he is…a solid #3 with a little upside. 

JacksTigers
3 years 6 months ago

Did you watch him? He got hit pretty well. He has the stuff to be a good number two, but if he is going to have a lot of ‘bad luck,’ then we shouldn’t be paying him $40MM.

Richard Ellard
3 years 6 months ago

Yes, we watched him! If it wasn’t for bad luck he easily could of won 20+ games! Verlander had a lot of bad luck 3 yrs ago also! Heck we gave Robertson and Willis crazy contracts and Max is a lot better then them!

JacksTigers
3 years 6 months ago

Don’t get me wrong, I think that he has great potencial, but he did struggle this year. He did have some really bad games. I do expect him to bounce back, but if he doesn’t, I don’t want to give him $40MM. There is a reason why they gave Verlander an extension after 2009 and not 2008.

verlander
3 years 6 months ago

Scherzer wasn’t as bad as his ERA.

FrankTheFunkasaurusRex
3 years 6 months ago

or you could buy low

inleylandwetrust
3 years 6 months ago

Since he’s shown his potential in spurts, and has solid peripherals it would seem to be a wise idea to lock him up now and save yourself millions; as opposed to waiting for the season where he fully puts it all together and commands more money.

j6takish
3 years 6 months ago

Scherzer is a really interesting pitcher. He strikes out 8 per 9, his walk rate is pretty good at 2.58…..but I really don’t know if he got unlucky. His BABIP is a bit on the high side but not too bad, his LOB is pretty normal. Really the only thing that sticks out is a huge jump in his HR ratio. He gave up 1.88 HR/9 on the road, which is high beyond the point of it being flukey. I watched most of his starts, and his peripherals seem to be consistent with what any Tiger fan could already tell you, when he is on he is on, but he occasionally gets bombed…HARD.

verlander
3 years 6 months ago

“He gave up 1.88 HR/9 on the road, which is high beyond the point of it being flukey.”

A HR/9 rate that high is fluky. Scherzer’s stuff didn’t decline, he didn’t do anything drastically different compared to the previous season, when he had a better ERA, and his peripherals were pretty good.

Rangersfan32
3 years 6 months ago

Fluky? I’d say that shows he is way too inconsistent and makes way too many mistakes with pitches in the zone. You don’t give up that many HR’s up on a fluke. At all.

verlander
3 years 6 months ago

His HR/FB rate jumped from 9.6% to 12.6% from 2010 to 2011, and there was no noticeable drop off in his stuff.  That is fluky.

notsureifsrs
3 years 6 months ago

no noticeable drop off in his stuff? in addition to losing considerable velocity, both of his off-speed pitches lost a good deal vertical movement (per pitchFx). this would make them flatter than usual and could explain why his slider — historically his best pitch — wasn’t very effective in 2011

weaker off-speed stuff means guys can sit on the fastball more often. if guys can sit on your fastball more often, you’re gonna give up HRs more often

dunno why are you presuming 9.6% is his true talent level anyway and 12.6% is the fluke. prior to the 9.6, his career average was closer to 12 than 9. 2010 is the HR/FB outlier

Richard Ellard
3 years 6 months ago

Some of Max’s problem is with his high pitch counts, And also needs to trust in his stuff. I believe he can be better then a #3 Pitcher but needs to keep those pitch counts down and go deeper into games. 

imachainsaw
3 years 6 months ago

jesus christ, is every player still under team control an extension candidate?
there’s been so many of these articles it’s ridiculous, most of these guys aren’t even that good to warrant a long term commitment.

JacksTigers
3 years 6 months ago

Deep breaths. We can get through this together.

imachainsaw
3 years 6 months ago

hold my hand

verlander
3 years 6 months ago

I’d love to lock Scherzer up, but I think it might be difficult considering he’s a Boras client.

frolickingjester
3 years 6 months ago

wasn’t he pretty close to leading the league in how many bases were stolen against him too…

playedthegame
3 years 6 months ago

Scherzer has a very poor delivery in my opinion. i’ve been waiting for him to come up with an arm problem or to get hit badly with a line drive because of the way he ends his delivery.(can’t protect himself if the ball is a screamer at his head!) heaven forbid it ever happening, but the way he finishes scares me…