Boras on Scherzer talks: “This is not church bingo”
Scott Boras has a binder prepared for all his top clients to help put some statistics behind their case. The Max Scherzer one is pretty big.
“We’ve narrowed it down to 45-50 pages,” Boras said.
It includes the much-publicized “pitching odometer” Boras has mentioned. It has stats ranging from such advanced metrics as Fielding Independent Control to traditional stats such as the Tigers’ winning percentage in games he pitched compared to everyone else in Detroit’s rotation.
“Max Scherzer is the type of athlete that just covers all bases,” Boras said. “He is actually getting better. He’s rare. Since he developed a curveball two years ago, left-handers hit 40-50 points less against him. He’s durable. He’s one of only four men in baseball the last two years that had 57 starts that go six-innings plus. Against postseason teams, he had an ERA of about 2.8 during the season. He wins in the postseason. He’s durable. And he’s one of those rare Cy Young Award winners where he’s at 29, but he has the innings and the pitches of a 26-year-old, of a Kershaw when he was 26 or a Felix Hernandez when he was 26 or a Sabathia when he was 26. So he offers a team so much because he’s durable, he’s fresh, he’s gifted, he’s getting better, he’s a leader, he’s great in the locker room, and he’s been tested and has achieved the highest award of any pitcher. This is a rare opportunity for a team.”
It’s a wide range of evidence, but one specific argument: Scherzer is a game-changer.
“Signing Max Scherzer can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of many divisions – most of them in baseball, to be honest with you,” Boras told reporters. “You sign one player, and you can say that a division race has been impacted to where it would lean toward the team that would sign him. …
“I think going into this year Max is kind of a Peyton Manning, No. 1 kind of guy. He’s always on the information train to improve himself, to evaluate his market. Last year, he really turned down a deal that was seven years and $160 million. He looked at the markets, and we have a new revenue structure in the game — we’re well over nine billion – and he really wanted to have the opportunity for choice, to see what teams are interested in him. Going into this, we knew that there really was not going to be any other pitcher that would impact his free-agent pursuit and the fact that his pitching odometer is so different and so unusual for a No. 1 pitcher.”
That number sounds different than the 6-year, $144 million offer we heard about in Spring Training, so I checked to clarify. That figure includes the $15.5 million Scherzer made in 2014 in a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Take that out, he meant six years beyond free agency at just over $144 million.
Boras did not get into what they’re seeking now, other than to say that recent contract extensions signed by others aren’t necessarily relevant.
“I think the part that you start with is that you’re looking at a free-agent player,” Boras said. “All the prominent pitchers that have signed – Verlander, Hernandez or Kershaw – were not free agents. Certainly if you put a performance like Kershaw into a free-agent market, you’re going to get a much, much different calibration of value than you would when he signed outside of one. I think we have to look not to any particular model other than free-agent models to really know what the markets going to be like.”
More Tigers specific, Boras was asked whether Scherzer has expressed a desire to remain in Detroit.
“Certainly I’ve had this conversation with the Tigers about his willingness to return, and that’s been expressed at every level,” Boras said. “He’s had a great experience in Detroit. Detroit can be a winning team and he’s very familiar with it, obviously, so he is certainly willing.”
The reference to every level certainly suggests ownership.
“I don’t talk about my conversations with owners,” Boras said. “I can only say that Mike Ilitch is very involved with his team and is one of the owners in baseball that I think fans in Detroit have to support. He deserves every bit of respect. He’s always done everything, I think, to make his team and that city what Detroit’s become. To draw 3 million fans in a great stadium is a real credit for the Ilitch family.”
Asked whether there’s a timetable for Scherzer to make a decision, Boras said no, because there are so many factors involved.
“Max has given me kind of a laundry list of what his needs are, what his wants are,” he said. “As to timeframe of these things, you can’t tell, because these negotiations are largely owner decisions, owner-driven. I think every general manager in baseball wants Max Scherzer on their team. There’s no doubt about that. It’s not something you have to trade for. It’s just really something that the owner has to decide what the economics are.”
Finally came the question of whether the Tigers will get the right to match a final offer when it comes time for Scherzer to make a decision. That brought the money line from Boras.
“No, this is not church bingo,” Boras said. “You pretty much are in the market on a player. You tell all the teams and everyone involved that he can sign at any time. He’s open to signing at any time. If we get in a room and we carry out a negotiation and he’s pleased with it, it can be done without notice at any time.”