By Kurt Miller
Max Scherzer. 28-years-old. Potential Cy Young winner. 21 wins. 2.90 ERA. 240 strikeouts.
What an impressive year it was for Scherzer, but Dave Dombrowski, it’s time to let Max go.
The Tigers were a good team this year, but not good enough. Their bullpen was exposed this postseason, and as much as I still like and support Jhonny Peralta, he’s not a left fielder.
Starting pitching on the other hand was not an issue. Verlander, Fister, Sanchez and Porcello (aside from a couple starts) make up one of the best starting rotations in the American League. These four and an added fifth (can you say Drew Smyly) can’t replace what Scherzer delivered this year, but they can do well enough.
Max has one year left on his contract. Zach Greinke cashed in last offseason with a six-year $159 million contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers after a year with a 3.48 ERA and just 15 wins. Just imagine how much money Scherzer will get next offseason. Actually, you don’t need to imagine, just know the Tigers already have three $20 million players under contract and Sanchez closely behind making right around $16 million for the next four years.
The Tigers’ excess money to spend isn’t there, but Max’s value sure is. So why not cash in? Cash in with prospects, bullpen help and an actual left fielder.
This is the Tigers’ biggest offseason in years, and some added (talented) youth may be what puts the Tigers over the top next year. Nick Castellanos showed he wasn’t ready during his September call-up to be a full time starter next year, so a corner outfielder who can add some speed to the lineup would make a drastic difference.
The bullpen’s woes surely didn’t go unnoticed this postseason (and the regular season for that matter) either. Smyly was the Tigers’ most consistent asset coming out of the ‘pen this year, and trading Max opens up a spot in the rotation for Smyly. He’s a lefty, something the rotation’s lacked recently, and he just missed making the rotation this past spring training.
Scherzer’s value can bring in arms that are meant to be in the bullpen. Young arms that can get strikeouts. His trade value can bring in bullpen help that consistently throws strikes. The future of Dotel, the wild Villareal and Albuquerque are unknowns at this point, so it’s time to beef up the bullpen. How’d that work out for the Red Sox?
Baseball, and all professional sports leagues for that matter, have seen extremely high turnover rates with their players become the norm in the recent past. It all comes down to how you can get the best bang for your buck in these leagues, and sometimes hard choices have to be made. Scherzer is just one player. One phenomenal player, be that as it may. But his trade value is at its peak. The Tigers are missing a few pieces, and what they could get in return for Scherzer could bring the city of Detroit its first World Series championship since 1984.
I don’t want to see him go. Nobody does. But you’ve got to give up talent to get talent, and Dombrowski knows that better than anyone.
Photo via Gabbot, via Wikimedia Commons