James Shields and Max Scherzer have still yet to find new squads despite drawing interest from teams that are seeking starting pitching depth. Detroit has been linked to Scherzer this offseason, most notably last weekend when Tony Paul of DetroitNews.com reported the Tigers felt they "had to have" Scherzer. But according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, Shields' agent has recently been in contact with Detroit's front office.
Detroit offered Scherzer a six-year, $144 million contract he turned down last spring. Although Scherzer has spent the last five seasons with the Tigers, General Manager Dave Dombrowski has consistently said they are most likely not going to resign him, which has resulted in rumors linking Shields to Detroit.
Morosi notes that the amount and extend of interest are unclear, but that Shields and David Price are close friends from their days in Tampa. Shields may also be less expensive than Scherzer, despite the fact that he reportedly has a five-year, $100 million offer and is seeking a deal that could be worth more. He is seen as a front of the rotation arm, and as The Detroit Free Press' Anthony Fenech notes, is a Plan B for clubs looking for a top starting arm.
Shields has proven to be versatile, making at least 30 starts and tossing at least 200 innings in each of the last seven seasons. Detroit has been in pursuit of such a starter since trading Rick Porcello to the Red Sox in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes in December. Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, and Alfredo Simon are all expected to open the season in the Tigers' starting rotation. If Detroit is able to sign Shields, Simon can move to a bullpen that has been inconsistent the last few seasons.
Although they are confident in their pitching depth, the Tigers also want to add another arm because both Price and Simon will be free agents next offseason. Detroit does not appear close to signing either to a long-term deal, according to Morosi, leaving Verlander and Sanchez as the only starters under contract beyond 2015.
The industry interest in both Shields and Scherzer is unclear. But the Tigers are looking to build off of the momentum from four consecutive American League Central titles.