As Scherzer talks heat up, Dombrowski says they’re not involved
So much for the idea that Max Scherzer would linger on the free-agent market into February. Can the same be said of the scenario that the Tigers would jump in at the end and get a chance to match or beat an offer?
According to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, both also of MLB Network, the Scherzer market is nearing a conclusion, with agent Scott Boras in talks with the Nationals and one other club on a seven-year deal. Rosenthal reports growing confidence from Nationals officials that they’ll complete a deal, while Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish echoed sources saying there’s an increasing sense from opposing clubs that Scherzer will sign with Washington.
That sense amplified Sunday night:
Per a source, Max Scherzer to the Nats is “very close.” Not finished yet.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) January 19, 2015
The setup is familiar enough to the Anibal Sanchez market two years ago — the one the Tigers won when owner Mike Ilitch answered the Cubs’ offer at the last minute — that the immediate thought was the Tigers are the other team.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is suggesting otherwise. He said in a text message Sunday afternoon that their status on Scherzer is unchanged, that they’re not in active pursuit — the status he has used for several weeks.
Asked if that means that they’re not the other team reportedly in talks on Scherzer, Dombrowski texted, “I just answered that question.”
That doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that Ilitch makes a last-second offer again. But for now, at least, it doesn’t appear to have happened. And the Tigers appear in line for their biggest free-agent loss of the Dombrowski era.
One thing that does appear definitive: The Scherzer saga should have a resolution very soon. If the Nationals sign him, it’ll resolve an interest that has been going on for more than a year. Washington supposedly had interest in Scherzer last offseason when the Tigers were looking to trade a pitcher. Nats GM Mike Rizzo was the scouting director in Arizona when the Diamondbacks drafted Scherzer in 2006. The Nationals were not willing to give up the haul Detroit wanted, so they shifted their attention to Doug Fister.
Ironically, the Nationals could end up trading another starting pitcher to make room for Scherzer in the rotation and on the payroll. Whether the Tigers, who have traded so many prospects since last summer that their rankings have been updated many times over, would be an interested party is an interesting question, though Dombrowski has said they like their starters.
Dombrowski also said Friday that they weren’t in active pursuit of any free-agent starter. That was in the wake of the rumor involving James Shields, whose agent was in recent contact with the Tigers according to Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com.
Also, if the Nationals — or any other team — signs Scherzer, the Tigers would receive a compensation pick near the end of the first round.