Robbie Ray Could Make It Easier For Detroit Tigers To Let Max Scherzer Go

By Brad Faber
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, Detroit Tigers prospect Robbie Ray made his fifth start of the season for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. Ray once again dazzled by pitching five shutout innings while recording five strikeouts. He is now 3-2 with a 1.59 ERA this season.

Ray was acquired along with Steve Lombardozzi and Ian Krol in the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals this past offseason. Lombardozzi was, of course, later traded to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Alex Gonzalez.

At the time Fister was traded, many felt that the Tigers did not get enough in return for him. However, if the way that Ray has been pitching in Triple-A is any indication of how he will pitch in the big leagues, then he will certainly prove to make the trade worth it.

It should also be noted that Ray is coming off of his finest season in the minor leagues. In 2013, Ray posted a combined 11-5 record with a 3.36 ERA while splitting time between High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He also recorded 160 strikeouts in just 142 innings pitched.

If Ray continues to pitch like he has thus far, the Tigers will likely have an easier time letting Max Scherzer go this offseason. Although both Scherzer and the Tigers have continued to express an interest in prolonging their relationship, inking him to a mega-deal after this season may not be the best idea.

Scherzer has indeed become an outstanding pitcher, and he is a great teammate as well as a great person. He is a fan favorite and there are many who would love to see him stay in the Motor City. However, one should really consider the following facts.

Scherzer has already turned down an offer that was reportedly worth six-years, $144 million, and the Tigers already have two of the game’s highest paid players in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. How much more could the Tigers realistically afford to give Scherzer?

Furthermore, Scherzer is going to turn 30 years old this summer. If the Tigers do decide to pay him like they paid Verlander, they will be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million annually on a pair of pitchers who will be in their mid-30s by the time the year 2018 rolls around. Would this really be a good idea?

Then, there is also the 30-year-old Anibal Sanchez who is currently in the second season of a five-year, $80 million contract.

Granted, there is no guarantee of how well Ray will pitch once he gets to the big leagues, but it does appear that the Tigers may have a fine, inexpensive replacement for Scherzer lurking in Triple-A. With the injury to Sanchez, it is a possibility that the Tigers could actually be getting their first sneak preview of Ray very soon.

Brad Faber is a Detroit Tigers writer for Follow him on Twitter @Brad_Faber, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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