Call it the calm before the storm — the appetizer before the main meal — but the Detroit Tigers took a big direction in a relatively small move. By signing Max Scherzer to a one-year deal worth over $15 million avoiding arbitration, the Tigers made it clear that they are not going to panic in signing their superstar pitcher to a long-term deal like so many teams have tried to do. The Tigers are not going to make a decision until they have to and that time is simply not now.
Scherzer has expressed repeatedly that he wants to finish his career in a Detroit uniform and it is a sentiment shared by many of his teammates. The Tigers treat their players better than almost any other organization and they compensate them better as well. The Tigers have the cap space available to lock up Scherzer for the long haul, so why is it a good idea to wait? Why would the Tigers take the risk of losing Scherzer? Because the Tigers are in a no-lose situation; if Scherzer pitches well, the Tigers have the money to sign him without free agency or even get a trade so incredible that it can’t be passed up; or Scherzer has issues and the Tigers can leave without the negative stigma attached to allowing his leave. The Tigers are in an ultimate position of power and are wisely utilizing all of it.
Too often teams negotiate when they don’t have to. Scared of other teams and market pressure, teams restrict themselves and leave themselves no flexibility in negotiating deals and searching the market. The Tigers should play the market and at worst, they will come away with a massive trade package and more than likely they will end up signing Scherzer after he has fully proven that he is not a one-year wonder. Scherzer still has a lot to prove, this isn’t the same case as Justin Verlander, who had years under his belt of dominance; Scherzer still needs to prove it for a little bit longer. Once he does, then the money train can pay a visit.