The Detroit Tigers signed a one-year deal with Max Scherzer worth $15.5 for the 2014 season. That does many things for them but it certainly will not stop the claims by Scherzer’s people that he deserves a huge payday. I have no problem with the American League’s best overall starting pitcher from 2013 getting a nice payday, especially if he repeats his work from last season in 2014. What I would take issue with is if the Tigers were willing to pay him Clayton Kershaw money.
First of all let’s be clear that I like Scherzer a lot. I think he deserved every slap on the back he got in 2013 and earned every single one of them straight up. He should get signed to a longer term deal before the end of the 2014 season and it should be a good one. Without slamming him at all however, I think it should be obvious that he shouldn’t get a Kershaw-like payday from the Tigers.
There are a few obvious reasons for this that won’t say a single thing negatively about Scherzer. He is 29 years old this coming season while Kershaw is 26. Scherzer had his best ever ERA of 2.90 in 2013 but even that didn’t lead the league while Kershaw has led the league in ERA and WHIP each of the last three seasons. Furthermore Kershaw has only had one season of an ERA as “high” as 2.91 in the last five years.
Even if Kershaw were to unfortunately get injured, he would be virtually guaranteed to return as one of the game’s best pitchers for the final six years of his contract. Because Scherzer has only had one season as one of the league’s best starters, there is no such guarantee for him. The Tigers should be, and likely will be smart about his contract offers. Give him his due but do not pretend he is at the freakish level of Kershaw; no one is.