Opinion: Cubs Ink Lester: What Does it Mean for Tigers/Scherzer?

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When Detroit’s ace Max Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144 million contract in the last offseason, people thought he was crazy.

Coming off of a Cy Young season, by far his best showing in his career, people believed that agent Scott Boras should get Scherzer a deal, and soon, before he or the market value declined.

However the power couple of Scherzer and Boras stayed firm, saying they were focused on the season ahead and would return to contract negotiations after the year.

In the meantime, Jon Lester, the most coveted left-handed pitcher on the market, signed a monstrous six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

While it is known the Cubs play in a big-market city, they often get scrutinized for underachieving on the field and being stingy with the purse strings. But with the signing of new manager Joe Maddon, and now Lester, Jed Hoyer is out to prove that the culture is changing in the Windy City.

Last year, Lester had a 2.46 ERA in the 2014 campaign, with a 1.10 WHIP while throwing 219.1 innings and striking out 220 batters.

Scherzer and Boras reminded everybody that patience is a virtue, and once again, Boras looks like a genius as his star pitcher will most likely sign the largest free agent contract of 2014-2015.

Scherzer went 18-5 in 2014, with a 3.15 ERA over 220.1 innings, striking out 252 batters, four times as many as he walked.

Now that Scherzer has proved he can put up consistent Cy Young caliber numbers, he and Boras are in no rush to sign a deal. Scherzer gambled on himself, having the confidence that he was worth more than the $144 million Detroit had offered him, and won.

With Lester receiving more from the Cubs than the Tigers were willing to offer Scherzer last year, the price for the Missouri graduate has definitely gone up.

Is Scherzer worth the reported $200 million contract that he and Boras are searching for? That remains to be seen, but in all likelihood, he won’t be signing a deal of quite that magnitude in Detroit.

That being said, Scherzer does make a very compelling argument for the big figures.

At 30 years-old, the same age as Lester, Scherzer has thrown 357 fewer innings than his left-handed counterpart, while totaling very similar numbers.

With a full season and a half less of stress, and what many people believe to simply be a more talented pitcher, it is adding up to be a very expensive day for Detroit if they look to re-sign their former Cy Young award winner.

Yet money and big names are nothing new in Detroit. Dombrowski said that the 2007 Winter Meetings would be quiet before they inked Miguel Cabrera, and said Prince Fielder was not a fit for the team just 48 hours before they signed him.

Detroit has also given Justin Verlander a seven-year $180 million deal in the past, so they are no stranger to signing a big-name pitcher for the long term.

But was that a mistake? Many believe so.

Verlander was a shell of his former self in 2014, with a 4.54 ERA, his worst in over six years. And still, Verlander has five seasons left on his contract and is owed around $130 million dollars.

So, what do the Tigers do?

If signing Scherzer means trading Rick Porcello (like many people close to the situation have hinted at), let him walk. Porcello is coming off of the best season of his career and with arguably the best defensive middle infield in the majors behind him, in Ian Kinsler and (barring any setbacks) Jose Iglesias, is poised to have an even better 2015 campaign.

Verlander will be leaps and bounds ahead of the 2014 version as he is not coming off of core muscle surgery. David Price, who will be in his first full season with the Tigers (which happens to be a contract year) is bound to have a lights out season.

Given Anibal Sanchez had a full offseason to recover from his depleted arm, and Detroit traded for a solid pitcher in Shane Greene, that is a very formidable starting five, and it does not need another nine figure deal.

However with all of that being said — this is Motown, this is Boras and this is Dombrowski.

With all of the biggest players in their respective occupations involved in this deal, it would not be surprising if all the ideas above were torn to shreds, and the Tigers trade Porcello to the Boston Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes and a relief pitcher in order to create room for Scherzer.

Wherever Scherzer goes, he should have a care package sent to Lester’s house, as he earned the right hander some serious extra dough.


Tony Garcia is the host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports