Max Scherzer signs 1-year, $15.5 million deal with Tigers, avoids arbitration

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The right-hander's deal is worth $15.525 million.

The Detroit Tigers have avoided arbitration with 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer by signing him to a one-year deal worth $15.525 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Scherzer was the best starting pitcher in a loaded Detroit rotation in 2013. He went 21-3 last season with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts; the performance earned him 28 out of 30 first-place votes en route to his first Cy Young award. He also drew the start in his first All-Star Game and earned a pair of wins in the ALDS against Oakland.

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The 29-year-old Scherzer is eligible for free agency after the season. He will likely be in line for an enormous payday if and when he hits the open market, and he was rumored to be on the trading block for much of the winter as the Tigers looked for ways to cut down a payroll that approached $150 million last year. Detroit eventually found salary relief when they unloaded Prince Fielder's contract and dumped Doug Fister for prospects.

Scherzer's new deal provides a clue as to what kind of salary he might command on either an extension with Detroit or a free agent contract. Given that he will be 30 years old next winter, he is unlikely to approach the $30 million annual salary recently bestowed upon 25-year-old Clayton Kershaw, but the fact that he can command over $15 million while still under team control means that he could almost certainly exceed $20 million per year on his next contract if he has another strong year in 2014. A safe estimate would put him somewhere between the annual salaries of Matt Cain ($20 million), who is excellent but has never won a Cy Young, and Zack Greinke ($24.5 million), who has a longer track record of success and is younger than Scherzer.

Shortly after Scherzer's deal was announced, Heyman reported that Detroit had also avoided arbitration with reliever Al Alburquerque by agreeing to a one-year, $837,500 contract.

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