It’s December 25th and the top available free agent of the winter remains unsigned. In some ways, it’s surprising to see the 30-year-old Max Scherzer still on the market given the widespread interest in him as a talent. On the other hand, agent Scott Boras has never been afraid to patiently wait for the right deal. So, who’s in right now? Well, oddly enough, it might be easier to list the teams that appear or claim to be out.
The incumbent Tigers have had “no conversations” with Scherzer’s camp, according to assistant GM Al Avila. Earlier this month, an industry source told MLB.com’s Jason Beck even though Scott Boras has openly said the Tigers won’t receive a chance to match an opposing team’s final offer for the hurler, Boras will, in fact, give owner Mike Ilitch a chance to match “at least as a professional courtesy.” Keeping Scherzer won’t be cheap, but the Tigers know the value that he brings and David Price is a year away from hitting the open market himself.
The Giants have some major question marks in their rotation beyond top starters Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson and they’d undoubtedly love to add the former Cy Young winner to their starting five. However, Giants GM Brian Sabean says that he hasn’t had discussions with Scherzer and doesn’t plan to. Given their financial constraints and the recent commitments made to retain Jake Peavy and Sergio Romo, SF’s budget just won’t allow for such a deal.
It’s a similar story for the rest of the field. The Cardinals say they are not actively pursuing Scherzer, even though he’s a native of the St. Louis area. Teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox, who are normally not as shy about spending, have also been quick to say they’re not in the mix.
Yesterday, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post sized up the rest of the field and rightly noted that the Blue Jays aren’t likely to splurge on Scherzer after showing a reluctance to spend heavily on a reliever. Davidoff spoke with an AL official who speculated the possibility of the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann, a year away from free agency himself, and signing Scherzer – a theory that ESPN’s Jayson Stark was hearing quite a bit from others earlier this month. Another official from a second AL team pegged the Angels as the team to suck it up and pay the luxury tax penalty necessary to sign Scherzer. Davidoff picked Detroit and St. Louis as the most likely landing spots for Scherzer while leaving room at the table for the Cubs, who were thought to be a top contender at the start of the offseason.
Take your best guess – where will this offseason’s best free agent wind up in the New Year?