By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer signed a one-year, $15.525 million deal to remain with the team in the wake of his Cy Young 2013 season, and he might be staying around longer.
And, of course, he might not.
“We were really focused on just getting 2014 taken care of first, so that’s where the majority of the conversation’s been,” Scherzer said Thursday. “Anything can happen from now. I’m sure further talks will happen in upcoming weeks.
“Hopefully we can get something done before spring training,” Scherzer added later. “If not, I know after the season we can completely resolve it and make this go away.”
The pitcher showed little interest in getting into specifics.
“I’m not going to discuss parameters,” Scherzer said. “That’s a private thing … For me, I’m just, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I can’t control it. For me, I can just get out there and pitch.”
Scherzer said he has not tried to interpret what the team’s recent moves – particularly trading Prince Fielder and his mammoth contract- might mean for him.
“That’s one of the theories, but none of that might be fact,” Scherzer said. “I just don’t look at it like that.”
While the ace pitcher remained noncommittal, he sounded optimistic about the idea of signing long-term.
“I love it here in Detroit,” Scherzer said. “This is a great team, we’ve got so much talent, we’ve been together for so long, and I’m comfortable. Obviously this is a place I want to play.”
One of the cozy aspects of the Tigers for Scherzer includes pitching coach Jeff Jones, a member of former manager Jim Leyland’s staff who will stay on even as new manager Brad Ausmus takes the reins.
“I’ve had such a good rapport with him,” Scherzer said. “He knows me, I know him, and what we’ve got to do to fix things. We’ve been very good at making each other better over the past few years, and Jonesy deserves a lot of credit.”
Scherzer said his arm feels great, he is already playing long toss, and he cannot wait for spring training to start. He believes there is plenty of room to improve on his impressive 2013 season.
“What I’m working on in spring training is just developing more of my pitches,” Scherzer said. “I made good strides with my curveball, but I feel like I can make even more strides now. There’s always things you can tinker with in spring training. It’s a great time to practice and try new things because you can’t really do that during the year when you’re trying to win. I always go there with an open mind frame, try to do things during spring training. That’s always seemed to work for me.”
How long Detroit will benefit from Scherzer’s labors remains to be seen. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, far and away the best pitcher in the game now, just signed a seven-year, $215 million deal. Scherzer would not comment directly on how that sum could impact his final number.
“I just think it’s good for the game,” Scherzer said. “You just see the health of the game in that you see owners are making more money and therefore players are going to make more money. That’s good for everybody involved. You have new TV money coming in. That’s good for everybody involved. It’s win-win for the owners and for the players.”
Scherzer has super-agent Scott Boras in his corner, which might understandably make Tigers fans a little nervous since Boras has a reputation for getting his clients giant deals with new teams as soon as they hit free agency rather than having them remain with their original teams.
Scherzer, though, said the excitement about free agency is hardly limited to Boras and his clients.
“That’s every player,” Scherzer said. “That’s such a huge right that the players have, every player in the Major Leagues have, and everybody wants to take advantage of it. Everybody wants to be a free agent. Why not?
“But at the same time, we have a great thing here in Detroit,” Scherzer continued. “Great talent, talent to be able to win a World Series, and I’m comfortable here. Obviously this is a place where I do want to play long-term, and hopefully we can get something done.”