Right-hander Max Scherzer's free agency has thus far been an intriguing case. Despite being arguably the best player available this winter, he has yet to develop a robust market, with just the Yankees, Tigers, and Giants being rumored to be possible fits, and none of them have been strongly connected to Scherzer in a manner that may precipitate a deal.
With Jon Lester now off the market, Scherzer's situation should begin to become somewhat clearer, as he is easily the top pitcher remaining, though James Shields may be a more intriguing option due to a likely shorter contract. Scherzer seems to be aiming high in his contract demands, as he and agent Scott Boras are reportedly seeking a deal worth over $200 million, per FOX Sports' Jon Morosi. A $200 million guarantee would make Scherzer just the second pitcher to receive such amount, following Clayton Kershaw's record-obliterating $215 million deal signed last January.
The Tigers, with whom Scherzer has spent the last five years with, don't seem to be all that interested in retaining him, and despite dealing Rick Porcello to Boston, they still have a very strong, full rotation of David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and the newly acquired duo of Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene. As Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski tells Jason Beck of MLB.com, the club is not "in active pursuit [of Scherzer] at this time", citing a failure to sign him last spring as a hesitation in entering talks. While that may very well be posturing on Dombrowski's part, it's probably more likely that the Tigers genuinely are not interested in retaining the 2013 AL Cy Young award winner. Even if the Tigers do wind up pursuing Scherzer, they wouldn't have any particular edge as Boras tells MLive.com's Chris Lott that the club would not be given the opportunity to match offers from other teams.
The Yankees have long been thought of as the most logical fit for Scherzer, with money to spend and a much-needed ace atop a shaky rotation that currently features injury risks in Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda, and is now without Brandon McCarthy. They could sorely use Scherzer, but at this point, their interest is only speculation, though they would likely be the automatic front-runner if they were to jump in the race.
The Giants would also seem to be an excellent fit, especially after missing out on Lester. However, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the club has "no plan to pursue" Scherzer. Instead, the club is more focused on Shields, who could end up receiving half the guarantee that Scherzer commands.
The Washington Nationals may also jump in at some point, especially if they trade away Jordan Zimmermann, who is a free agent next winter.
Either way, rumors surrounding Scherzer should become much more prevalent in the coming weeks, as the 30-year-old seems set to hold off until at least the new year to sign his mega-contract.