November 13th, 2013
On the day Max Scherzer officially won the AL Cy Young award for his amazing 2013 season, he was prepared for the questions about 2014. With rumors building about the possibility of the Tigers trading Scherzer with a year left on his contract and potential free-agent stardom to follow, he didn’t want to take away from his celebration.
“The business side will take care of itself,” he said on his conference call with reporters. “My job is go out there and play baseball and pitch. All the business side tends to take care of itself, for the best.”
At the same time, he didn’t want to dodge the issue, either. And when asked about the possibility of contract talks with the Tigers this winter, he left the door open.
“I am open (to a new deal),” Scherzer said. “I love it here in Detroit. We’re capable of putting out a team that’s able to win every single year right now. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I’m here to win and win a World Series. I realize I’ve got a good situation here in Detroit. But it also takes two to dance. …
“I don’t have any [anxiety] to get anything done, but if something does get done, I’d be happy to do it.”
That meshes with remarks that his agent, Scott Boras, made with reporters at baseball’s GM Meetings earlier Wednesday.
“They know Max likes it there,” Boras told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. “We would have to sit down and talk about their plans for the future. But when you have a player who likes playing where he’s playing and an ownership that has been what Mike Ilitch has been in Detroit, it’s certainly something we would listen to.”
I’m not at the GM Meetings this week in Florida, but MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor Richard Justice is. He was in the mix when Dave Dombrowski talked with reporters about Detroit’s offseason priorities. Long story short, Dombrowski confirmed the Tigers are chasing free-agent closers, while all but confirming they’re listening to trade interest on their starters.
“What are our immediate needs? We could use a closer, but we’re discussing those in free agency,” Dombrowski said when asked if he could trade a starter to address immediate needs. “We have six starters when you include Smyly. We’re not looking to trade them per se. We’re always open minded to see what works for us.”
Dombrowski declined to go any further into the trade possibility, though he reportedly told Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com that he expects Smyly to be in the rotation next year. On the closer angle, he gave every indication that they’ll fill the post via free agency, not in a trade.
“We need to address our bullpen a little bit,” he said. “We need to come up with a closer, and I think we will.”
So far, the Tigers have been linked in reports to interest in Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour. Also out there are Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez, among others. I’m thinking they’ll come up with a closer, too, whether it’s Nathan or someone else. The bigger question arguably is how they see the rest of the bullpen. On that note, it’s probably not a coincidence that Dombrowski said losing Rondon for the postseason was huge.
“Getting him back, which we believe we will, and you have a closer, all of a sudden, it changes your situation a great deal,” Dombrowski said. “We think our bullpen would have been fine [in the postseason] if we’d had him back.”
One more note from Dombrowski’s session today: When asked about Nick Castellanos competing for the left-field job next spring, he gave it a tentative thumbs-up.
“Well, right now we’re giving him an opportunity to make our club,” Dombrowski said. “Left field was one spot this year where we really didn’t have that regular guy. [Castellanos] got a cup of coffee in September just to get him exposed to the big leagues. We’re thinking he has a chance to earn that spot or a lot of playing time out there. We have a complement of guys like Dirks and Kelly to go along with him. We like him. We think he’s ready to play.”