Max Scherzer Rumors
The Nationals are looking to add an "elite" starting pitcher via trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and they're in luck, as both Max Scherzer and David Price have been rumored to be available this winter. Rosenthal explains his reasons behind believing that Scherzer could be a better fit, highlighted by the fact that Nats GM Mike Rizzo drafte Scherzer in the first round when he was the Diamondbacks' scouting director. Rosenthal's sources maintain that the Tigers aren't shopping Scherzer at this point but rather just listening to offers. Here's more from a jam-packed column from Rosenthal...
- The Phillies have kicked around the idea of trading for Price, but it's unlikely to happen. The Phils would likely have to include top prospect Jesse Biddle in a potential package and perhaps Domonic Brown as well. Also, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recognizes that his club has multiple needs and that he will need to make multiple additions rather than going "all-in" on one big splash like Price or free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
- While many will argue that Tim Lincecum's deal doesn't impact the free agent markte for starting pitchers because it was the Giants paying to keep one of their own, Rosenthal points out that other starters and their agents will argue the direct opposite -- "that the Lincecum contract was merely the outgrowth of supply-and-demand economics." In particular, he feels that it hurts the Pirates in their quest to retain A.J. Burnett. Rosenthal wonders how the Bucs can possibly retain Burnett after Lincecum got $17.5MM per year when they didn't even want to offer Burnett a $14.1MM qualifying offer.
- The Rangers are once again pondering their infield logjam and whether or not to trade one of Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler. Kinsler could also be moved to first, though it may be less appealing that moving Kinsler and his salary ($57MM through 2017). Kinsler's contract makes him the easier of the two to trade. Figuring out the middle infield and securing some salary relief could be the key to the Rangers' offseason, he adds.
- The Mariners consider right-handed pop their biggest need, and Rosenthal wonders if they'll take a second run at Mike Napoli, who they tried to land last offseason.
Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal limited the Red Sox to just four hits and two runs in the Cardinals' 4-2 win in Game Two of the World Series. Their success is the latest example of the Cards' peerless farm system and ability to develop pitching, which is the topic of these news links...
- Wacha lasted until the 19th pick in the 2012 draft, a selection that looks like a steal for the Cards right now. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo talks to some scouts and executives from those first 18 teams about why they passed on Wacha and how he fell so relatively far in the draft.
- Beyond finding draft steals, the Cardinals' ability to turn those low draft picks into star players is what wows executives and scouts around baseball, Peter Gammons writes. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy talks to several past and current members of the St. Louis organization about how they evaluate and develop their talent.
- Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. boosted payroll and authorized expensive player acquisitions in his first few years of owning the team in order to revive fan interest and quickly get into contention, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch writes. In 2003, however, DeWitt refocused the franchise towards emphasizing player development, spending on the draft and international scouting, thus starting the Cardinals' current run of success.
- With as many as 10 potential starting options for the rotation next year, some rival executives wonder if the Cardinals could package some young arms in a deal for Max Scherzer, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reports. Scherzer, who was born in St. Louis, has been rumored to be a possible trade candidate since the Tigers are unsure if they'll be able to sign him to a long-term extension. As Knobler wonders, however, "why would the Cardinals need to do that?" given that they're already set for pitching, not to mention that Scherzer will be a free agent next winter.
- Some think that if any Cardinal pitcher is traded, Lance Lynn could be "the odd man out," Knobler writes.
Brian McCann's foray into free agency is well-timed, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Angels could all have interest in him, perhaps along with the Blue Jays and White Sox. The fact that big-market teams like the Red Sox (whose primary catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, is also a free agent) and Yankees might be on the lookout for a catcher could drive McCann's price sky-high. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Tim Lincecum did indeed decline a two-year deal to remain with the Giants, but Heyman says that doesn't mean Lincecum is looking for a longer contract. Instead, Lincecum was seeking a one- or two-year deal with the Giants, seemingly hoping to recover his earlier, Cy Young-caliber form before heading back out on the free-agent market. The Mariners, Dodgers and Angels could all have interest in Lincecum, Heyman writes.
- The Red Sox' run to the World Series has been stressful and exciting for its front office, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne. "Those of us in the front office, we're kind of just along for the ride at this point," says GM Ben Cherington. "When the games start, we're rooting so hard, we're fans, and every pitch is like an event. So some parts of the games are hard to watch. We enjoy grand slams and the last three outs when Koji [Uehara] is on the mound. That's about it."
- It's unclear what the Tigers will do with Max Scherzer this offseason, the New York Post's Joel Sherman writes. Scherzer can become a free agent after 2014, and many executives for other teams believe the Tigers will shop him. Others believe, though, that the Tigers will simply pretend they might trade Scherzer in order to get Scherzer to encourage his agent, Scott Boras, to negotiate a long-term deal.
Cubs prospect Albert Almora declared 12 years ago his intention to become a major league star, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes. "I'm a quiet kid, just go out and do what I have to do. I like to just shut up and not say anything, let my game do the talking. It has worked so far," Almora says. The Cubs took the outfielder sixth overall in last year's draft, and though Almora missed time this year with injuries, he's six for 10 with five runs and six RBIs in two Arizona Fall League games. On to more Saturday night links...
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune spoke with former Stanford assistant coach Dean Stotz about A.J. Hinch, whom the Cubs are reportedly considering for their open manager position. While Hinch struggled during his previous tenure as manager of the Diamondbacks, Stotz, who coached Hinch in college at Stanford, praised his scouting and player development acumen and predicted that the next team that hires him "will be pleased."
- The Mariners' purported interest in Lou Piniella for their manager vacancy was overblown, Ryan Divish of The News Tribune reports. A team source tells Divish that there was no "full-court press" to bring Piniella back.
- Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun has more on Manny Machado's upcoming knee surgery, reporting that the Orioles initially hoped to rehab the tear to the third baseman's medial patellofemoral ligament but decided that doing so could result in a higher chance of an injury in the future. “The surgery is universally very successful in returning players back to play, including baseball players," Daryl Osbahr, the director of sports medicine research at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, commented.
- The time may be right for Cal Ripken Jr. to accept a managing job outside of Baltimore, Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun writes. Buck Showalter has a long-term deal in place as the Orioles' manager, providing cover from fan backlash for both the team and Ripken if the O's legend decides to manage another club. Ripken has been connected to the Nationals in recent days.
- Mutual need for outfield production may lead to a bidding war between the Mets and the Phillies for Carlos Beltran, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News says. The Mets have money to spend and will look to improve upon an outfield that posted the worst OPS in the NL, while the Phillies may target Beltran, a switch hitter, for their lefty-heavy lineup, Murphy says.
- Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III discussed his team's success and the support it receives from St. Louis in an interview with MLB.com
- The Tigers may have to decide between keeping Max Scherzer for one more year or signing Miguel Cabrera to a new extension, according to Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz has projected that Scherzer will make $13.6MM this offseason in his final year of arbitration. Recent reports suggest that the Tigers will consider trading Scherzer in the offseason.
Fans that are dreaming about a David Price trade after the recent news that he's preparing himself to be moved this offseason can add another name to their wishlists, as Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that there's a "very real chance" the Tigers could trade AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer this winter.
As Knobler points out, Scherzer is eligble for free agency following the 2014 season, and as a Scott Boras client, he's unlikely to sign a long-term deal with free agency so close at hand. The Tigers are already paying Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder $20MM or more next season, and they've committed $12-16MM to each of Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez and Torii Hunter.
Acquiring Scherzer would likely make him a strict one-year rental, because as Knobler writes, any acquiring team would face the same Boras roadblock as the Tigers. If Scherzer is able to come close to repeating 2013's dominant numbers, his price tag could soar to Zack Greinke-esque levels, so it makes sense for him to hold off.
Scherzer earned just $6.725MM in 2013, but MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects an increase to a whopping $13.6MM in 2014 following his dominant campaign. The 29-year-old pitched a career-high 214 1/3 innings, turning in a 2.90 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 36.3 percent ground-ball rate. Scherzer's 2.98 SIERA and 2.74 FIP are both among the seven best marks in baseball. Among the six starters with better FIP marks, only Clayton Kershaw has a higher innings total. Among the five with SIERAs that best Scherzer, only Cliff Lee topped him in innings pitched.
My take on the situation: While it's certainly possible that the Tigers will entertain offers, I can't imagine them moving Scherzer without being completely blown away by an offer. The Tigers' free agent signings of Fielder, Sanchez and Martinez, as well as their record-setting extension for Verlander show a clear "win at all costs" strategy. Owner Mike Ilitch has made no secret that he desperately wants a World Series Championship and will spend to make it happen. Perhaps a Scherzer trade would be more likely if the team emerges from the 2013 postseason with a World Series trophy. Even in that instance, however, worsening their chances at a repeat title in 2014 strikes me as a questionable move when they've already invested so much into fielding a winning roster next season.
Tonight's American League All-Star starter Max Scherzer knows the best place for MLB players to find out if they're on the move. "It's crazy how that works. You're traded out of the blue, and the only way you find out is by MLB Trade Rumors. All of the media and all of your friends know, but you don't hear it from the people doing it," the Tigers righty told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Scherzer went on to describe himself as a "pretty fanatical fan" of this website, of which he is a near-daily reader. Be sure to check out Nightengale's article, which focuses on Scherzer's experiences with former slugger and current Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire. As Scherzer and other players prepare for tonight's All-Star game at Citi Field, here are your related links...
- We learned yesterday that nothing is cooking regarding a contract extension for Scherzer, who is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. Talking to Nightengale, Scherzer said, "It's funny, everybody wants to speculate on teams, and X amount of dollars, but if I go out there and pitch well, everything will take care of itself."
- How about National League starter Matt Harvey, who fronts the Mets' rotation and is also represented by Scott Boras? Joel Sherman of the New York Post talked to Boras, who said, "Usually the team will come to you, it is not up to the player to start negotiations. I would also say this, where the team wants to go in these situations and what the true value of the player is are not often that close." That's not terribly encouraging, but Mets fans can rest easy knowing Harvey will not be arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season, and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 campaign.
- Though he didn't make the American League squad, Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes took home the Home Run Derby belt last night, besting Bryce Harper. To learn about the journey Cespedes and his family took in defecting from Cuba, check out this article from Susan Slusser and Demian Bulwa of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Another good read is the harrowing story of Marlins All-Star Jose Fernandez, who also defected from Cuba. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince has it here, and Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald has another good look at Fernandez here. Fernandez has not yet reached the riches Cespedes has, as he was subject to the 2011 amateur draft.
- With 37 home runs at the All-Star break, the Orioles' Chris Davis is another of the All-Star Game's big stories. Davis treats Roger Maris' 61 home runs in 1961 as the record, discounting the six times it was bested from 1998-2001 by Barry Bonds, McGwire, and Sammy Sosa. Yahoo's Jeff Passan surveyed 15 All-Stars and found that most treat Bonds' 73 as the record despite his PED ties. The Reds' Joey Votto was most critical of Davis' stance, telling Passan, "If Chris feels like 61 is the home run record, maybe he’s just selfishly pegging that number as the home run record so if he passes it he can wear a crown or something like that. There would be a lot of money in that."
- The Nationals were highly interested in Davis when the Rangers made him available in 2011, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Instead, Davis joined the Orioles along with Tommy Hunter in a July 2011 deal for reliever Koji Uehara and $2MM.
- More than half of the 78 All-Stars were acquired by their current team through the draft, an international signing, or a trade while still in the minors, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal in his analysis.
Scott Boras, agent for Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, told reporters (including MLB.com's Jason Beck) that he hadn't spoken to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski about a multiyear extension for Scherzer and such talks would wait until the offseason.
Scherzer has one remaining year of arbitration eligibility remaining and is scheduled for free agency following the 2014 season. The Tigers explored a long-term extension with Scherzer last winter but the two sides instead settled on a one-year, $6.725MM deal that avoided an arb hearing. It appears as though the Tigers missed their window for a relatively inexpensive extension for Scherzer, who has posted a 3.19 ERA, 10.6 K/9 rate and 4.90 K/BB ratio en route to a 13-1 record and a starting assignment for the American League All-Star team.
Boras noted that his client "is very happy in Detroit" and that if Scherzer did reach the open market, there's no guarantee he would go elsewhere.
“I don’t think Detroit fans should all be scared of free agency,” Boras said. “If I’m not mistaken, I think free agency has been very good to the Detroit Tigers. Again, I don’t think [owner] Mike Ilitch or Dave is in any way perplexed about what they know free agency means to a player like Max. He’s a proven owner to go out and do what is necessary to keep the players that Dave and his staff have determined are necessary for his success.”
Scherzer will be 30 years old when he hits free agency and would be one of the headliners of an intriguing crop of free agent pitchers in the 2014-15 offseason that could include Clayton Kershaw, Homer Bailey, Justin Masterson, Johnny Cueto, Hisashi Iwakuma, Brandon Morrow, Wei-Yin Chen and Yovani Gallardo, though the latter five hurlers could be retained on team options.
The Tigers are eight games above .500, feature a powerful lineup and dominant rotation, and seem as good or better than last year's World Series entrant. According to Fangraphs, Detroit projects to finish with the second-best record in baseball. But the team has one much-discussed weakness: the back of the bullpen. Long rumored to be exploring trade options to fill the closer role, the Tigers will generate even more discussion given the team's recent shedding of incumbent Jose Valverde and the approaching trade deadline. Here are a few notes on that and other topics:
- Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski insists that, in spite of designating Valverde for assignment, the team "still think[s] he can close games for us." As Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press reports, the team hopes Valverde will clear waivers and accept an assignment to Triple-A.
- In the same piece, Sharp offers that the true purpose of Dombrowski's supportive words is to position the club on the trade market. According to Sharp, Dombrowski is confident that the team can take the division even if it bides its time solving its 9th-inning dilemna. By playing it slow, then, the GM is trying to avoid being forced to overpay for a big-name arm well in advance of the trade deadline.
- While the closer role will always get more attention, the Tigers are also looking for better consistency amongst their setup men. The club recently recalled Al Alburquerque, who has dominating stuff but struggles to control it. In his first outing since returning to the big club, his control issues featured prominently. The performance of the club's middle relief/setup corps could also factor into its trade deadline plans.
- Meanwhile, the Tigers have enjoyed incredible production from starter Max Scherzer, who rates in the top five league-wide as measured by fWAR. (In fact, look at the rest of the list and you will notice that the club has four of the league's top twelve starters by that metric.) As FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes, Scherzer's breakout has set him up for a big payday. Agent Scott Boras says that Scherzer is "one of the top pitchers in the game," and will enter a "changed" pitching market "when [he] hits it" after 2014. With Scherzer posting remarkable strikeout totals and superior results, he will not only get a nice arbitration raise next year but has greatly raised the price of a hypothetical extension. Detroit may regret not taking up Ben Nicholson-Smith's suggestion before the 2012 season that a four-year, $30MM extension was a fair target. Now, the team will have to decide whether it can afford to lock down both Scherzer and fellow 29-year-old starter Doug Fister, with long-term deals already on the books for Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez.
- Chris Perez said he was pleased to see the Indians agree to terms with Bourn, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "It feels like we're a big market club," Perez said. Last fall the closer publicly criticized Indians ownership and management for their decision making and spending.
- Max Scherzer said the Tigers brought up the possibility of a long-term contract this winter, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. “We talked about it,” Scherzer said. “But we were more focused on just getting one year done." Agent Scott Boras represents Scherzer, who said he loves Detroit and the Tigers organization. Scherzer is on track to hit free agency following the 2014 season.
- A.J. Pierzynski said he's not disappointed to have moved on from the White Sox to the Rangers, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. "I'm excited about the new opportunity here and the chance to come to a team that definitely has a team to be very competitive, with a goal of going to the playoffs," he said. Pierzynski, who obtained a one-year, $7.5MM deal from the Rangers, described the signing as "bittersweet."
- The Twins have a new-look rotation after adding pitching reinforcements during the offseason, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com writes.
5:01pm: Scherzer's deal will pay him $6.725MM -- the midpoint between the two figures, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
4:52pm: The Tigers avoided arbitration with right-hander Max Scherzer, Brian Britten of the Tigers announced (on Twitter). Scherzer, a client of the Boras Corporation, obtains a one-year deal for 2013.
Scherzer filed for $7.4MM and the Tigers countered with a $6.05MM offer, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. The 28-year-old will go to arbitration one more time following the 2013 season then hit free agency two offseasons from now. The Tigers have now avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.