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Max Scherzer is the best pitcher left on the free agent market, and depending on your view of Jon Lester, was the best available from the offseason's start. He's probably not going to sign until it's already 2015, as his agent, Scott Boras, is never in a rush for this sort of thing unless someone floors his client with a deal that just can't be turned down -- think back to Jacoby Ellsbury agreeing to a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees in early December of 2013 for an example that sort of thing. At this late stage of the winter, with most of the high-quality free agents -- and even the middle-tier ones -- gone, the focus is understandably going to be on where Scherzer ends up. No one knows the answer for sure, but clues are starting to come together to form believable hints. It's something!
More on Max Scherzer
5 reasons why the Tigers can still sign Scherzer
Max Scherzer remains the top free agent player on the market and is seeking a $ 200 million contract. Here’s why the Tigers might still sign their ace.
More on Max Scherzer
The Giants missed out on Pablo Sandoval, Jon Lester, and a number of others, and they're going to miss out on Max Scherzer, too. Well, sort of. They aren't even going to talk to him about coming to San Francisco, which takes them out of that race before it officially starts. If the Red Sox were only going to $135 million on the best homegrown lefty they've ever had in Lester, they probably aren't going to ask about the significantly more expensive Scherzer, either. The Yankees are maintaining that they aren't going to sign a big-money pitcher this winter -- specifically, team president Randy Levine said there is "virtually" no chance of the Yanks bringing in a six-year, $25 million per year type pitcher. While it's hard to believe the Yankees when they talk about not spending, there is some sense here: they have a lot of rotation questions in 2015, and are trying to get younger. Many of those questions will be answered, whether positively or negatively, by 2016, and then David Price will likely be available as a free agent with the same kind of market as Scherzer now. They need more pitching, but they don't need to go all-out for it just yet if they don't want to.
If the Tigers are going to spend big for a pitcher, they should go with Scherzer over James Shields. Shields is older, he'll cost roughly the same on an average annual value basis, and the Tigers are already familiar with Scherzer's work. This seems to be where Baseball believes Scherzer is going to end up, too. It might not be for the $200 million or more Boras was asking for, but it was never about getting over $200 million: that was the starting point so that Scherzer could end up in the same $180 millionish contract tier as Felix Hernandez and Tigers' teammate Justin Verlander.
The Yankees could still change their minds or claim they never said anything about avoiding pitchers for seven years and $28 million per, or the Nationals could deal one of their impending free agents to make space and then decide to go all-in on Scherzer. The market could also pick up once Shields makes a decision and suddenly Scherzer is the only major free agent upgrade left. For now, though, a reunion with the Tigers seems to be the best guess out there.
- Troy Tulowitzki is making too much money for the embarrassingly poor Mets, but chances are good the trade target would blow his current deal away were he a free agent right now.
- The Twins tripped over themselves in their hurry to extend Phil Hughes another three years. The deal has obvious risk and obvious upside, to the point where it's hard to blame anyone for feeling too strongly about it in either direction.
- Wil Myers was traded after two years in the majors, but he's still under 25 years old. History has given us a number of incredible players who dealt with the same situation early in their careers.
- The Royals sent some players packing and added a whole bunch of new faces, so what is that lineup going to look like in 2015?
- David Robertson has some odd reverse splits that might make his new deal worrisome to some.
- The Padres have been aggressive this offseason, but we shouldn't be surprised when a first-year general manager decides to make this kind of all-in splash.
- Speaking of the Padres, Marlins' pitcher Dan Haren is still hoping he'll be traded either to them or the Angels. Dan, please eat some of Miami's fine Cuban cuisine before you bail, okay?
- The Pirates submitted the top bid for Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang, so now they have 30 days to work out a deal.
- Is Jason Heyward the biggest offseason upgrade at any position? That depends on how much you think the Red Sox were going to rely on Allen Webster in their rotation.
- While we're on the topic, any Red Sox attempt to pry Cole Hamels from the Phillies is going to be complicated by the Padres' interest in the ace. This new world order is very strange.
- The Cardinals are once again sending part of their brain trust into the world. The constant drain on their front office hasn't hindered them yet, though.