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.