max scherzer january 2014The Detroit Tigers have signed the American League’s 2013 Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer to a one-year contract worth $15.525 million. The club made the announcement yesterday and said it still hopes to sign the right hander to a long-term deal later in the year.

The new contract means Scherzer won’t be eligible for arbitration in February, but he’s still scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the 2014 MLB season.

The Tigers also signed several other players who were headed for possible arbitration hearings. These included one-year contracts with right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello, relief pitcher Al Alburquerque and outfielders Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks.

Porcello will be paid $8.5 million for 2014 while Alburquerque will make is at the other end of the scale at just $837,500. Dirks signed for $1.625 million and Jackson will take home $6 million.

The only remaining player eligible for arbitration is Alex Avila. The Tigers can still negotiate with him until a hearing is scheduled in February.

He signed last year at the deadline for $2.95 million and filed this season for $5.35 million. The Tigers then made a counter offer of $3.75 million. The arbitrator must choose one or the other figure and isn’t allowed to choose something in between them.

Dave Dombrowski, the general manager and president of the Tigers, said the club will still try to get Scherzer’s signature on a long-term deal as soon as possible.

The new contract was offered to make sure the team didn’t have to go to arbitration over arguably its best starting pitcher. Scherzer was scheduled to go t arbitration last year, but signed for $6.725 million on a one-year deal just before his scheduled hearing was about to take place.

Scherzer’s value doubled this year due to the numbers he put up for the Tigers last season. He posted a record of 21-3, which was the best in the Major Leagues, and had an earned-run average of 2.90 per game along with 240 strikeouts in 214 and 1/3 innings pitched.

David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, who is a former Cy Young Award winner, signed a one-year deal with his club earlier in the week for $14 million for the 2014 season. This gave the Tigers a good idea of Scherzer’s worth.

The year-long deal for Scherzer is reportedly the largest ever in Tigers history for a player who signed before arbitration. Miguel Cabrera held the previous record with his $11.3 million contract for the 2008 campaign.

The 29-year-old Scherzer has made it known that he’s interested in signing a long-term deal, but if he doesn’t sign one he’ll test the free agent waters next winter.

Scott Boras, who is Scherzer's agent, is known to prefer to test the free agent market to see what his clients are worth, but he has also agreed to terms on long-term contracts on the past, as he did with pitcher Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels.

If the Tigers open the bank vault they can probably keep Scherzer from placing himself on the open market.


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