As the Detroit Tigers and their fans get ready for game five of the 2013 ALDS in Oakland tonight we turn our attention to the off season. The Tigers have a very large payroll that is about to expand significantly given the fact that 21 game winner, playoff hero, and likely American League Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer is not under contract past this year. He will enter his final year of arbitration once the off season begins and is under team control for 2014, however his agent Scott Boras does not want to sign a long term deal hoping to score big after the 2014 season in the free agent market.
Scherzer made 6.76 million dollars this year and was part of a 148 million dollar in payroll this year. He is due a hefty raise and some think he could even command 20 million a year in 2014. If that is true that would give the Tigers four guys making 20 million or more and there is no way the team can sustain that level of payroll. Based on the five year 80 million dollar fellow tigers starter Anibal Sanchez signed last off season it seems the 20 million mark is easily within Scherzer grasp.
The Tigers already have fellow starter Justin Verlander, third baseman Miguel Cabrera, and first baseman Prince Fielder due to make 66 million dollars. Add to that a few expensive albeit expiring after 2014 season deals (including Sanchez’s 15 million) and the Tigers already have 107 million dollars in payroll for 2014. There is virtually no way they could add another 20 million dollar deal to that.
The good news here is even without Scherzer the Detroit starting rotation looks pretty good. JV, Doug Fister, Sanchez, and Rick Porcello are all proven hurlers and Detroit could go to Drew Smyly to be the fifth starter and only left hander. It seems very likely Scherzer would bring enough in return via trade to make that the preferred option for the club moving forward.
As sad as it will be to see Mad Max leave Detroit for Tigers fans, the hope has to be that the front office gets enough in return to guarantee future trips to the post season.