With Max Scherzer turning down the Detroit Tigers‘ contract extension offer, there appear to be a number of teams already lining up to begin the bidding after the season. If the Chicago Cubs are smart, they won’t be standing in that line.
Why, you might ask do I think the Cubs shouldn’t be anywhere near a Cy Young winning pitcher who is coming off a 21-win season? Quite simply because that particular pitcher isn’t going to be worth the contract he will demand.
Reports indicate Scherzer turned down a six-year contract worth a little more than $144 million. That averages out to about $24 million per year.
The Cubs certainly should be flush with cash, finally being shed of that gargantuan Alfonso Soriano contract, but the team shouldn’t foolishly get itself into another situation where they are paying tens of millions of dollars to a player well after they’re useful.
The Tigers’ superstar is 29 years old. The problem isn’t his age now, its what his age will be whenever his next contract is likely up.
It seems possible Scherzer will be looking for a six- or seven-year deal and for more money than the $24 million per he was offered by Detroit. The length of the deal means the Cy Young winner will be 35 or 36 when whatever team signs him is free from his contract.
Chicago has been willing to spend that kind of money on talented free-agent pitchers in the past, but the difference here is Scherzer’s age. The last two pitchers the Cubs went after with a blank check (Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish) are or were 25 when the bidding began.
Some will argue that acquiring a pitcher the quality of Scherzer outweighs the costs at the end of his contract. There are advocates who want Chicago to pursue the best player on the open market now and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
Jim Hendry would certainly agree with that approach and it’s why the Cubs are in the situation they find themselves today. As attractive as Max Scherzer will be, the Chicago Cubs should stay far away.