Should Max Scherzer Leave Detroit After Miguel Cabrera Deal?

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Should Max Scherzer Leave Detroit After Miguel Cabrera Deal?
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers signed two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera on Thursday to the highest payout in MLB history per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Heyman wrote that the extension was worth $248 million over eight years, which means he will be paid $292 million over the next 10 years with the two years he had remaining on his old deal. The deal was made just a few days after contract talks ceased with Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

Should the deal with Cabrera influence Scherzer to test the open market after this season?

Scherzer is fresh off his best season as a big leaguer, setting career-highs in wins (21), ERA (2.90) and WHIP (0.970), including taking home his first Cy Young award. The 29-year-old is currently on the books for a one-year, $15.53 million deal.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted on March 23 that the Tigers offered Scherzer six years and $144 million but the right-hander was looking for eight years, per ESPN's Jim Bowden. The club did not help its cause when it issued a statement making their Cy Young winner sound difficult to negotiate with.

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.

With Scherzer set to be a free-agent, it would not be a bad idea to look for a new club to pitch for. The Tiger’s will be paying four players at least $16 million each in 2015, including Cabrera and Justin Verlander, who will make $22 million and $28 million respectively.

In a rotation that already features Verlander and Annibal Sanchez, why not give Scherzer the money he wants? It seems odd that the Tigers wouldn't fork over the deal he is looking for and keep one of the best rotations in baseball intact. 

Not giving him eight years gives Scherzer an incentive to get out of town. It gives an impression that the organization doesn't value him as much as they value Verlander. Especially considering the performances of each righty last season.

That doesn’t mean that Detroit wouldn’t be willing to give $24 million annually to Scherzer, which is what the deal that was offered would be worth. The eight-year deal he wants would put the contract number at $192 million.

But for a guy who has improved his numbers over the past three seasons, as seen in the chart below, can you argue with him wanting eight years? Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports argues that Scherzer’s total pitch count after six major league seasons is far lower than other aces when they received their big extensions.

Max Scherzer, 2011-2013
IP ERA H/9 K/9
2011 195.0 4.43 9.6 8.0
2012 187.2 3.74 8.6 11.1
2013 214.1 2.90 6.4 10.1

Baseball-Reference.com

“Of course, he and agent Scott Boras can argue his wear and tear pales compared to those peers and thus positions him in the proper place to seek more,” wrote Passan.

It would make perfect sense for Scherzer to test the open market. There would be no shortage in teams interested in his services. He has pitched at least 30 games each season over the past five years and has a career strike out rate of 9.4 per nine innings.

On top of that, Bowden says Scherzer has injury protection through an insurance policy. It would make the former Missouri Tiger more willing to test free agency if he doesn’t get the deal he wants.

Scherzer has been one of the top pitchers in baseball over the past couple of years. He should test the open market and get the deal he is looking for after this season.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

You can follow Trey on Twitter @treydwarren

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