UPDATE 3:53 PM: The Tigers offered Scherzer a six-year, $144 million contract, according to Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com. That deal would pay Scherzer $24 million a year, but Scherzer rejected the offer as the Tigers announced this morning.
UPDATE 1:48 PM: Agent Scott Boras issues a conflicting statement to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, using the Tigers' exact words but claiming that the club, not the player, rejected the offer.
"Max Scherzer made a substantial long-term contract extension offer to the Detroit Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected by Detroit,'' Boras said. "Max is very happy with the city of Detroit, the fans and his teammates, and we will continue negotiating witth the Tigers at season's end.''
ORIGINAL: The Tigers announced on Sunday that right-hander Max Scherzer has rejected their latest extension offer and that the sides will no longer the possibility of an extension until after the season. The unique team announcement stated:
"The Detroit Tigers have made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Max Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected. As we have reiterated, it has been the organization's intent to extend Max's contract an keep him in a Tigers uniform well beyond the 2014 season. While this offer would have accomplished that, the ballclub's focus remains on the start of the upcoming season, and competing for a World Championship. Moving forward there will be no further in-season negotiation and the organization will refrain from commenting on this matter."
According to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, Scherzer rejected an offer in the range of $24MM to $25.7MM in average annual value, a deal that would have made him among the six highest-paid pitchers in baseball. Scherzer and agent Scott Boras decided that it would be best to test the open market next winter in hopes of receiving a deal greater than the one that the Tigers offered.
Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young award last season, will be joined by top starters Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and James Shields on the open market next offseason. While Lester is making progress on an extension with the Red Sox, it appears unlikely that Masterson or Shields will reach extensions before the end of the season. With Scherzer, Masterson, Shields and Ervin Santana slated to hit the open market next offseason, teams looking for stating pitching will have plenty of options to choose from.
The Tigers' statement may have an effect past the negotiations with Scherzer, as the team is also at least thinking about signing another Boras client, Stephen Drew. The team's willingness to go public with Scherzer's rejection of their offer is an interesting PR and negotiating tactic that could strain future relations between the club and the agent.