By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT - When starting pitcher Max Scherzer turned down the lucrative contract extension the Detroit Tigers offered him before the 2014 season, Sports Illustrated termed the gamble "Mad Max's $144 Million Bet."
Scherzer stands to collect that money plus an additional $56 million if he gets his reported asking price. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports Scherzer wants $200 million. Only Clayton Kershaw - significantly younger and significantly more productive - has commanded that kind of deal.
A three-time Cy Young winner and MVP, Kershaw has turned in ERAs of 2.53 or lower in each of the last four seasons. Most agree that he stands alone as the best at his position. Scherzer, at this point, is not even close.
Looking at the statistics, Scherzer should not get the same money as Kershaw. Looking at the market, which will be set when Jon Lester makes his decision, Scherzer could well get exactly what he and agent Scott Boras want.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has reported that four teams have all offered Lester at least $150 million, and one team was willing to go as high as $175 million. Lester ended up signing with the Chicago Cubs for six years and $155 million, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who wrote that if Lester had gone with the San Francisco Giants he could have gotten $168 million for seven years.
Since Scherzer has been better than Lester over the last three years combined and has less mileage on his arm, a monstrous deal that rivals Kershaw's could be within Scherzer's reach.
Long-term deals tend to end on sour notes, but teams have been willing to accept the eventuality of decline in exchange for several seasons of a top pitcher in his prime. The Tigers are no stranger to such deals, but whether they will be the one to give one to Scherzer remains to be seen.
for more features.