Many fans of Detroit Tigers baseball were disgruntled by the news of reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer turning down the Tigers’ lucrative contract offer earlier this week. However, the fact that the deal was not made may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the Tigers can now turn their focus to re-signing Miguel Cabrera. The word out of the Tigers’ Spring Training camp is that the discussions are already underway.
Unlike Scherzer, Cabrera will not become a free agent until after the 2015 season, but the sooner the Tigers can lock him up for life, the better. Since putting on a Tigers uniform back in 2008, Cabrera has driven in 100 or more runs in all six seasons and has hit anywhere between 30-44 home runs each year. He has only batted below .300 once, which happened to be during his first year in the league when he batted .292.
He has also made four All-Star teams, won a Triple Crown, three batting titles, two home run titles and two RBI titles over that time span. Simply put, Cabrera is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and the Tigers cannot afford to lose him.
Scherzer, on the other hand, has only had one outstanding season. Prior to 2013, Scherzer never made an All-Star team and his name was never mentioned in the Cy Young discussion. Even if he puts together another season in 2014 that is on par with his 2013 campaign, he will still only have two exceptional years to his name.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that Scherzer is already going to turn 30 years old this summer, and the Tigers are already going to be paying Justin Verlander an average of $25.7 million per year until he is deep into his 30s. The Tigers should really ask themselves whether or not it would be wise to make the same commitment to Scherzer, or if they would be better off infusing a bit more young blood into the rotation.
Obviously, Cabrera has already eclipsed 30 years of age as well, but there is plenty of evidence to show that he would be a better long-term investment. Furthermore, the fact that he has moved back to first base, which is probably where he has always belonged, could only bode well for his health and elongate his career.
It is impossible not to like Scherzer. He is a great person, and his 2013 breakout season could not have happened to a nicer and more deserving individual. However, history will likely show that turning down the Tigers’ six-year, $144 million offer was a mistake on his part, even if the length of the contract was the real reason why he rejected it.
Teams are beginning to shy away from offering lengthy contracts after seeing what the Los Angeles Angels have endured with Albert Pujols as well as what the New York Yankees have been going through with C.C. Sabathia. Scherzer may be hard-pressed to find a team that is willing to give him the eight years he and his agent were reportedly seeking.
Obviously, Tigers fans would love to see the organization retain both Cabrera and Scherzer. However, if they can only choose one, the obvious choice would be Cabrera. The Tigers would have a far easier time trying to replace Scherzer’s arm than they would Cabrera’s bat.
If the Tigers’ 2015 rotation consists of Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly and Robbie Ray, the team should still be in pretty good shape.