Detroit Tigers Rumors
The Tigers issued an unorthodox statement yesterday morning:
The Detroit Tigers have made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Max Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected. As we have reiterated, it has been the organization’s intent to extend Max’s contract and keep him in a Tigers uniform well beyond the 2014 season. While this offer would have accomplished that, the ballclub’s focus remains on the start of the upcoming season, and competing for a World Championship. Moving forward there will be no further in-season negotiation and the organization will refrain from commenting on this matter.
As reported by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick later Sunday, Boras countered with a statement mirroring that of the team:
Max Scherzer made a substantial long-term contract extension offer to the Detroit Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected by Detroit. Max is very happy with the city of Detroit, the fans and his teammates, and we will continue negotiating with the Tigers at season's end.
The legendary Peter Gammons asked rhetorically this morning, "What did the Tigers achieve painting their Cy Young as greedy?" As we ponder the team's decision to make their frustration public, here's more on the situation...
- Scherzer's side suggested to the Tigers that $144MM is an "old market price," reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, with the new market being Clayton Kershaw's $215MM deal and the Yankees' $175MM outlay for Masahiro Tanaka.
- Scherzer turns 30 in July, and his age plays against him in comparisons to megadeals for younger starting pitchers, writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan. Passan argues, however, that Scherzer's workload is relatively light at 18,643 pitches thrown in in his career. Passan feels that "The ceiling is now Kershaw. Boras doesn't traffic in floors." Further, the writer feels the Tigers' statement was "classic grandstanding and reeked of insecurity."
- The Tigers' cozy relationship with Boras is no more, writes Morosi. "Boras did not have direct dialogue with [owner Mike] Ilitch during the Scherzer negotiations," writes Morosi, in contrast to the Prince Fielder negotiations in the 2011-12 offseason.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden feels Scherzer should have overruled Boras and accepted the Tigers' offer, which Bowden feels is fair market value by way of a Zack Greinke comparison. Bowden credits Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski for drawing a line in the sand on Scherzer.
- Tim's take: the Tigers made a reasonable bid, though not one at the level typically required for a star Boras client to eschew free agency when it's so close. The public statement was a misstep, seemingly made out of frustration. The Tigers' offer would have Scherzer tied for the fifth-largest contract for a starting pitcher, and doesn't seem to account for inflation of salaries since Hamels signed in the summer of 2012. There's no word that the Tigers included an opt-out clause, which was included in all the bigger deals: Kershaw, C.C. Sabathia, Tanaka, and Greinke. Now, is it actually a smart baseball move to give Scherzer a seven-year deal worth more than $180MM covering his age 30-36 seasons? Probably not.
Lombardozzi, 25, hit .259/.278/.338 in 307 plate appearances for the Nationals last year, appearing at second base, left field, and third base. He was traded to the Tigers in December along with Robbie Ray and Ian Krol for Doug Fister. Lombardozzi is a Maryland native whose father spent parts of six seasons in the Majors. The move gives the Orioles added infield depth in light of third baseman Manny Machado starting the season on the DL. The Orioles added Triple-A depth yesterday with their waiver claim of David Adams.
Gonzalez, 37, was in Orioles camp as a non-roster invitee. Gonzalez had signed a minor league deal with Baltimore in January, and put together a strong line in 30 spring plate appearances. Gonzalez provides another option for the Tigers for the injured Jose Iglesias, who will begin the season on the DL and will miss likely significant time with stress fractures in both shins. The Tigers acquired infielder Andrew Romine from the Angels two days ago.
The Tigers' return for Fister, already seen around the game as light, takes a further hit with Lombardozzi being swapped for an expendable player like Gonzalez.
Fans shouldn't be angry over players' multimillion-dollar salaries, CBS Sports' Dayn Perry writes. That Albert Pujols is paid hundreds of millions of dollars to hit a baseball might seem frivolous, but exorbitant salaries for ballplayers and entertainers have been part of our culture for some time. "You might as well lament the tides of the ocean," Perry writes. Also, ticket prices aren't caused by high player salaries, but by demand. Fans are willing to pay high ticket prices (as they do even to college sporting events, where players are unpaid), so teams charge high ticket prices. Here's more from around the big leagues.
- Given the tone of the Tigers' press release on the Max Scherzer negotiations, it might not be a good time for Scott Boras to bring up Stephen Drew with the Tigers, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The Tigers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for the free agent shortstop but the club's unusual step of issuing a press release on the end of talks with their star pitcher might indicate some soured relations between them and the top agent.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says his offer for Scherzer was the most he has ever offered a player that has been turned down, tweets Tom Gage of the Detroit News. For his part, Scherzer says he wants to stay in Detroit long term (link).
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) notes that one of the big talking points on the Prince Fielder trade was that it freed up money for the Tigers to sign Scherzer. With a new deal for Scherzer currently off the table, Passan wonders if Detroit might shift their attention to Miguel Cabrera.
- After winning 94 games and advancing to the NL Division Series last season, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if the Pirates are candidates for regression this season. Despite losing free agents A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau, the Pirates didn't make any splasy moves to replace them this winter.
- Left-hander Rich Hill can opt out of his deal with the Red Sox on May 15th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- Agent Jon Fetterolf has left Williams & Connolly and is now running sports practice for the Zuckerman Spaeder firm, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- Right-hander Chris Young, ostensibly in the competition for the Nationals’ fifth starter spot, can opt out of his minor league contract if the Nationals do not add him to the 25-man roster by Thursday, a person familiar with the contract told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why pitchers seem to be hitting the disabled list at a higher rate throughout the minor and major leagues. Not only are young pitchers including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, and Bruce Rondon undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring, but Medlen and Beachy are actually having the surgery for a second time. “I think pitchers are getting abused at a younger age,” Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told Cafardo. “Most of them are max-effort guys, so it reaches the point where the stress finally causes a breaking point.” More from today's column..
- The Mets do not anticipate a deal involving first baseman Ike Davis. The Mets resumed gauging interest in Davis last week but so far, no inquiries have really blown them away. The Orioles are still among the clubs with interest.
- Joel Hanrahan has shifted his training base to Tampa, moving toward his first showcase for teams, which should happen shortly. The Red Sox have some interest in bringing back Hanrahan, but with teams like the Tigers, Orioles, and Yankees in need of back-end relievers, he probably won't wind up back in Boston.
- Twins pitcher Vance Worley, who is out of options, was placed on waivers Friday, then outrighted to Triple-A when he cleared. Minnesota may still deal Worley and a return to the Phillies would not be out of the question.
The Tigers have begun discussing an extension with Miguel Cabrera, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Morosi emphasizes that the talks remain preliminary, and there is little urgency, since Cabrera is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.
Cabrera is currently signed to an eight-year deal worth $152.3MM. He will make $22MM both this season and next. He turns 31 in April and is eligible for free agency shortly before his age-33 season. His age might make it somewhat tricky to find common ground on a deal. Last year, ESPN's Jayson Stark asked agents and executives what a Cabrera deal might look like, and they speculated that he might get anywhere from three to five years. Morosi suggests Cabrera's representatives at Relativity Baseball could compare Cabrera to Albert Pujols and argue Cabrera should get an even bigger contract than Pujols' ten years and $240MM, but that may be unlikely, due to Cabrera's age and the fact that the Pujols contract is widely perceived to be a problem for the Angels.
1:07 pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports also spoke with Boras and the agent indicated both sides were active in talks and there was a price point at which Scherzer would have said yes, but he declined to disclose the details of his proposal to the Tigers (Twitter links).
12:25 pm: Scott Boras tells ESPN.com it wasn't Scherzer who rejected the extension offer, but the Tigers. "Max Scherzer made a substantial long-term contract extension offer to the Detroit Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected by Detroit,'' Boras said. "Max is very happy with the city of Detroit, the fans and his teammates, and we will continue negotiating with the Tigers at season's end."
10:58am: An industry source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the Tigers' offer to Scherzer was for a slightly lower figure than the $25.7MM per year that Justin Verlander received in the extension he signed last spring. However, the deal still would have placed Scherzer among the top six highest-paid pitchers in baseball in terms of average annual value.
That means that the offer would have averaged at least $24MM a year. The only pitchers currently earning that much or more are the Clayton Kershaw ($30.7MM per year), Verlander ($25.7MM), Felix Hernandez ($25MM), Zack Greinke ($24.5MM), C.C. Sabathia ($24.4MM), Cliff Lee ($24MM), and Cole Hamels ($24MM).
It's worth noting that there's no word yet on how many years the Tigers offered Scherzer or whether there was an opt-out clause in the final proposal.
8:11am: The Tigers announced that Max Scherzer has rejected the Tigers' latest extension offer, meaning that talks between the two sides are done for the season. The pitcher has made it known that he would not negotiate a new contract during the 2014 season.
"This can be a major distraction," Scherzer said back in February. "I understand I have a chance to secure my future here with the team. I want that to happen. But at the same time, I’m not going to drag negotiations out into the season."
The Tigers' release indicates that the club made a "substantial, long-term contract extension offer...that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball." Moving forward, they say, there will be no further talks during the year.
Scherzer, a Scott Boras client, will play out his last arbitration-eligible season on a one-year, $15.525MM deal that broke the record for a raise by a five-year service time pitcher. The 29-year-old was stellar last season, posting a 2.90 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 214 1/3 innings. With Clayton Kershaw locked up and taken out of the 2015 free agent market, Scherzer will now stand as the premier pitcher next winter.
While no one can reasonably use Kershaw as a comparable, his new seven-year, $215MM deal with the Dodgers certainly raises the ceiling for top starters like Scherzer. As our own Jeff Todd noted in January, Masahiro Tanaka's seven-year, $155MM deal ($175MM when including $20MM posting fee) could have been relevant to Boras' case.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Here's the latest from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports:
- The Tigers' recent trade for Andrew Romine suggests that they will not pursue Stephen Drew even though he's the best free agent available at shortstop. As owner Mike Ilitch ages, he may involve himself less with team business, and the team may be less likely to splurge when an opportunity arises. And the loss of a first-round draft pick is a high price to pay.
- As Opening Day approaches, the Angels still haven't signed Mike Trout to an extension. Players and teams sometimes treat Opening Day as a deadline for extension discussions. That doesn't mean the Angels won't sign Trout, Morosi notes, but as of now, a signing does not appear to be on the immediate horizon.
- With Aroldis Chapman out and with Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall returning from injury, the Reds have at least a temporary vacancy at closer. One trade option to fill it could be the Diamondbacks' J.J. Putz, who has closing experience and who worked with current Reds manager Bryan Price when both were with the Mariners.
Free agent shortstop Stephen Drew would be willing to negotiate a one-year contract with the Tigers, reports John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. The belief, according to Lowe, is that Drew would be interested in landing a deal at approximately the same value as the qualifying offer ($14.1MM), but wants to wait to sign until after Opening Day to prevent the possibility of another QO next year.
Of course, speculation about the possibiity of Detroit signing Drew began immediately after the report indicating that incumbent shortstop Jose Iglesias would likely miss most of the season. But Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has said he intends to rely on internal options, and the club just dealt for Andrew Romine to provide another option or platoon piece. It remains to be seen whether the Tigers would be inclined to sacrifice a pick for Drew if they could limit their commitment to one year, but that possiility certainly is an intriguing option for a talented club that has suffered several important recent injuries.
The 28-year-old Romine will add another name to the mix of internal candidates to replace the injured Jose Iglesias at shortstop for the Tigers. In a career-high 123 plate appearances with the Halos last season, Romine batted .259/.308/.287 and saw action at third base, shortstop and second base. In his limited time at shortstop in the Majors, Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved peg Romine as below average at shortstop, but small sample warnings should definitely be applied, as he's played just 189 innings there at the game's top level. Baseball America ranked him as the best defensive infielder in the Angels' system four times from 2007-11.
Alvarez, 24, made his Major League debut last season and posted a 5.82 ERA in 38 2/3 innings with 7.2 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 40.3 percent ground-ball rate. Opposing lefties roughed him up at a .265/.321/.531 batting line, but he's been much better in the minors. At the Triple-A level, Alvarez has a 2.80 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 128 1/3 innings. He was named Detroit's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013.
The Tigers will be without setup man Bruce Rondon for the 2014 season, as Tom Gage of the Detroit News reports (via Twitter) that the flamethrowing right-hander will undergo Tommy John surgery. It's a major blow to a bullpen that already contained plenty of question marks, but general manager Dave Dombrowski tells reporters that he'll look to fill the void with internal candidates (per the Detroit Free Press on Twitter).
The news increases Joba Chamberlain's importance to the Tigers and likely that of right-hander Al Alburquerque as well. This is the third major injury to a member of the Tigers' projected 25-man roster already this spring, as Andy Dirks will be sidelined up to three months after back surgery, and stress fractures in each of Jose Iglesias' shins will likely cause him to miss the entire 2014 season.
Rondon, 23, posted a 3.45 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 46.8 percent ground-ball rate in 28 2/3 innings out of Detroit's bullpen last year, and he had fired seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks thus far in Spring Training. Rondon's innings can be replaced, but it will be virtually impossible to replace his velocity; his 99.3 mph average fastball was the highest among all big league pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched -- even Aroldis Chapman (98.3 mph).
While Iglesias' injury led many to speculate on a Stephen Drew signing for the Tigers, the free agent market for relievers is more bleak. Ryan Madson and Joel Hanrahan represent a pair of potential impact arms, but each is coming off major surgery, and Madson hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2011. Dombrowski continues to repeat the "internal options" refrain, but at some point one has to wonder if the growing number of injuries will cause him to make a somewhat notable move to regain some of the lost production.