Max Scherzer contract rumors: Tigers jump out ahead of Scott Boras

Did the Tigers make a mistake or were they sending a message?

The Tigers and Max Scherzer, or perhaps more appropriately Scott Boras, have come to an impasse on negotiations for an extension that would keep Scherzer in Detroit long-term. The team offered the 29-year-old righty a six-year, $144 million deal, according to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.

It's hard to imagine that the average annual value of $24 million is the sticking point. That would push him close to the top-10 highest average annual values in the game -- not just for pitchers. The length of the deal was the more likely speed bump.

The team released this statement:

"The Detroit Tigers have made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Max Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected. As we have reiterated, it has been the organization’s intent to extend Max’s contract and keep him in a Tigers uniform well beyond the 2014 season. While this offer would have accomplished that, the ballclub’s focus remains on the start of the upcoming season, and competing for a World Championship. Moving forward there will be no further in-season negotiation and the organization will refrain from commenting on this matter."

Bless You Boys' Kurt Mensching sees a few reasons why the team decided to make a public statement.

There are two ways to approach this. The first is that Detroit has just had a PR snafu. The reason the club keeps its collective mouth shut generally is that it operates best behind closed doors ... The remaining idea is that the Tigers are speaking directly to their fans and nothing more.

Both of those are certainly possibilities, and they might not be mutually exclusive.

It might have been a mistake. It depends on what happens, but the most reasonable assumption is that the Tigers were trying to get out ahead of this situation -- just in case Scherzer ends up in another uniform next season. If that happened, fans would be asking, "Why didn't you sign him? Are you greedy?"

With this statement, the Tigers might have beaten Boras to the punch. It might backfire, because in a way, keeping Scherzer in Detroit is the only way for them to come out on top, but they have an early advantage in the blame game that will likely follow a less-than-convivial Scherzer departure. Now the prevailing response would seem to be, "Well, he turned down a massive contract. Good riddance."

Boras' next move should be interesting. He's been uncharacteristically quiet this offseason. Maybe he's been employing a snake-in-the-grass approach to the market so far. That analogy certainly seems to fit him, but that really isn't fair unless you come up with an equally furtive animal with which to liken front offices.

Scherzer doesn't want to leave Detroit, but the two sides won't negotiate during the season. He seems to see the statement as a inherent part of negotiation.

I think they respect where I'm at, I respect where they're at and we'll revisit this after the season. This doesn't change anything. I still want to be in Detroit. I love this clubhouse and everything about it. There's been a history in the past of the team signing free agents, so hopefully I'm part of that history as well.

If Scherzer leaves Detroit after the season, the Tigers are guaranteed to get at least one player in return for him in the form of the draft pick via the qualifying offer. Scherzer would obviously turn it down, and perhaps resume negotiations with Detroit -- and other teams. The Tigers have a brief window of exclusive negotiating rights after the World Series, but if it begins to look more like they will lose one of their best pitchers, they could decide to shop him for multiple impact prospects.

But if they're in contention in August as they project to be, they might have to accept the fact that they won't be getting much in return.

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