James Shields, Max Scherzer and the Market Jon Lester Set

Royals NewsNew Years Day has come and gone and James Shields and Max Scherzer are both waiting for a call from their agents to tell them if they will be in Arizona or Florida when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.  Shields is coming off his second World Series appearance and Scherzer is coming off an 18 win season.  Either of them would be an upgrade for any team in the league yet both are unsigned as of the first week of the new year so what gives.

Shields would have fit nicely with the Giants eating up innings and saving a bullpen that will be often used with Matt Cain easing back into the rotation, Tim Hudson coming off surgery, and Tim Lincecum at this point a dice roll if he is five and dive or gets you seven plus each game.  Shields came to the big leagues in 2006 at the end of May and was shut down at the end of that season on September 22nd.  That is the only year since he debuted that he didn’t throw 200 innings a season.  In fact, in 2007 he was able to toss 215 innings even while being shut down by Tampa Bay on September 14th of that season.  He is a great leader of a staff and can match up with anyone and try to make a game of it.

Scherzer would make an even better fit for San Francisco if they want to repeat as World Series Champions.  A rotation of Bumgarner, Scherzer, Cain, Peavey and Hudson would match up nicely with the Dodgers starting five.  At 30 years old he is in his prime.  According to Fangraphs.com his numbers look in line with his line drive, ground ball, and fly ball percentage all in line with his life time averages.  Same can be said of his velocity and his K to BB ratio.  How about Boston?  Would Red Sox fans love to have a rotation of Scherzer, Buchholz, Porcello, Miley and Masterson to go along with the upgrades of Sandoval and Ramirez?

Can you name any other teams that could use either of these arms?  The Yankees have a rotation that has more questions than answers.  What if the Mariners had someone to make a one two punch to go along with King Felix, the O’s still need a number one starter, the Cards could use a starter that goes 200 plus innings to help save their bullpen, and the Angels, could they use a horse?  I can keep going and going.  Outside of the Dodgers and the Nats, wouldn’t everyone like an upgrade of a innings eater like Shields or horse like Scherzer?

So what does it boil down to?  Is it the money that has kept them unsigned or the length of the contract they are seeking or both?   Shields was reportedly looking for a $100 million over 5 years and Scherzer had turned down a seven year $160 offer from the Tigers already.  Jon Lester set the market this season with his 6 year $155 deal.  So why are the other two big free agents still waiting.  It has got to be the AAV and the length of the deal that Shields and Scherzer are seeking compared to what Jon Lester got from the Cubs.  Lester deal is a AAV of $25 million plus and he will be 37 at the end of his deal.  Shields is seeking a deal with a $20 million AAV and will be 38 at the end of that deal.  If Scherzer is looking for something better than his $22 million plus AAV offer that would have made him 37 at the end of the deal he has no takers yet.  It looks like for now that Shields and Scherzer’s demands are out of touch with what the market this season.

Shields seems to be between a rock and a hard place.  Even with Ken Rosenthal’s report he has a $110 million offer,  I am still not sure what he will sign for.  If he can’t get his 5th year that takes him to age 38, do you give him more AAV and make him a $22 or $23 million dollar a year pitcher that is inching to what Lester signed for, probably not.  If he has the $110 in hand, either  someone will sign him through the age of 38 or someone wants to give him an AAV of $27.5 if its for four years which seems unlikely.  Mike Krukow told KNBR Radio in San Francisco that the market for Shields might go down as we get closer to pitchers and catchers reporting and I tend to agree with him unless we see someone blink and give him that last year or give him the AAV which eclipes Lester’s AAV.

Tigers NewsFor Scherzer if he is looking for 7 years that matches up with the 6 year deal Lester got, he might be in line, being one year younger than Lester and both deals would take then to the age of 37 when these deals expire.  Where do you slot his AAV?  He has already turned down an AAV of $22 million plus.  Is he going to get something in line with Lester or is he looking for something closer to Clayton Kershaw‘s 7 year $215 million dollar deal with an AAV of over $30 million and ends when Kershaw is only 32 years old.  The last year of that deal will pay Kershaw $35 million plus and if he is healthy he will be in his prime, kind of where Scherzer is today.  So the question is do the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers or anyone else want to pay a 38 year old pitcher at the end of his contract more than $25 million a year.

A few years ago, teams were willing to sign veterans to long term deals that teams knew would have dead money at end of the deal.  As these deals are now coming due and we see Alex Rodriguez getting paid like he is still an All Star, I think teams are thinking twice before signing long term deals paying so much on the back end of a player in decline at the end of his run.  Baseball now sees what happens when the party is over and the credit card comes due and it aint pretty.

 

 


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14 Responses

  1. […] Baseball News Source talks James Shields and Max Scherzer. […]

  2. marksutton says:

    I do not believe Shields has a $110M offer already. In a four year deal, that would put him at $27.5M AAV; in a five year deal, $22.5M AAV (ending at 38 years old). If he and his agent were rational, they would have taken either deal long ago. I think the article’s thesis is correct. Shields and Scherzer are not signed probably because they are pricing themselves too highly.

    • Draven Moss says:

      Yup, I think it is quite obvious both these guys have priced themselves out of reach for every MLB team. Boras is demanding 200MM+ for Scherzer, which I don’t see happening at all, otherwise we’d at least have some teams being rumoured to be interested. IMO, he is gonna be hard-pressed to get 190MM, and the only teams probably willing to pay that are the Yankees or Tigers, and both have claimed they’re not interested (but now, one of the Tigers executives have said that they “have to have him”, but I doubt at that price). So honestly, I believe he might be able to get a 7/185MM deal and I’m not sure who would offer it (maybe Boston if they think he is a significantly better pitcher than Lester, or perhaps Detroit if they really want him). Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up with a 6/175MM deal, which I could definitely see, as many teams are willing to offer higher AAVs for less years, but I’d figure a team would rather 7/185MM than 6/175MM. And as for Shields, I’m starting to think that rumoured 5/110MM deal is bogus too, unless a team like the Rockies or Astros decided to offer him that, which really makes no sense as they continue to rebuild. However, I could see him ultimately end up with a 5/110MM deal because if he decides to wait out until Scherzer signs, the losing teams may then begin to panic and decide to overpay for Shields. I could see this the case if Boston/NY ends up with Scherzer, forcing the other to want to make a big move.

      • Rich Herrera says:

        I think Scherzer could make the Red Sox the class of the AL and he could help the Giants fight off the Dodgers and Padres 7 at 185 is an AAV of 26 plus and more than what Lester got. Difference might be if you are Boston DO YOU NEED HIM to Win today since you are built to win NOW
        How bad to the Giants want to repeat enough to take on his deal they are almsost done paying off my heir ballpark and have new found money to spend

        • Draven Moss says:

          That’s a great analogy. As a Red Sox fan, I personally was kinda sad when they let Lester walk by giving him what I’d consider a low-ball offer. I think if they gave him an extra 10MM, making it 145MM, I think that would’ve been fair, and he probably would’ve toke it. And as of right now, the AL East is wide open for any team to win it, thereby meaning the team that has the best performance will more than likely win it. So, if the Red Sox had to aim big, and sign Scherzer to a 7/185MM deal, it would definately push them over the top. And, where they are built to win now, they should just go for it this year and sign Scherzer IMO, because they should take any extra advantage they can in a weak division because next year, you just don’t know what’ll happen, and more than likely, the pitching market will be in much higher demand, with the likes of the Nats and probably the Yankees in the mix for a top of the rotation arm.

          • Rich Herrera says:

            The Rays have the best rotation in AL East Yankees will count a lot of the back end of their rotation O’s still don’t have an Ace
            And the Jays ask me in an hour Andy opinion will change
            Red Sox get Max they are built to win regular season and have to hammers for playoffs

        • marksutton says:

          I am a Giants fan. Based on a long history with essentially the same decision makers, I do not think the Giants will even bid for Scherzer because his price is so high. I personally think there is too much risk in Scherzer at the expected AVV’s and the number of years. Although Shields is older and not as dominant as Scherzer, he is big and strong, a consistent innings eater, and does not have any indications of losing velocity. I think (and hope) the Giants will bid on him if his AVV gets closer to $20M for five years, or he signs for 4 years. Unless he had an unreported injury, I do not think Lincecum is a major league starter anymore based on the last two months of 2014. The Giants would then need another starter. Based on the Red Sox’ reported bidding on Lester substantially below the Cubs and Giants, I do not think the Red Sox will be in on Scherzer close to the AVV’s being reported.

          • Rich Herrera says:

            The Giants might be entering a new era soon, as they finish paying off the debt service on their ballpark. When they built the original Pac Bell Park they knew that the ballpark would eat into their payroll almost like the ballpark would be the cost of the two impact players

  3. Rich Herrera says:

    Mark
    Thanks for the feedback

    Each year teams and agents try and guess what the market will be for Impact FA’s. How many other players are out there, what teams needs are, what kind of new “found” money has come into the market because of new Local or national TV deals, new ballparks coming on line and other new sources of revenue.
    Once the first player signs all that goes out the window once the market is set and everyone is working off that deal.
    Do you want to be the market setter like Lester and risk leaving money on the table or be the second signed and work off the number someone else might have settled for.
    It looks like the deals Kershaw and Lester set the market and what Sheilds and Scherzer are looking for doesn’t line up with their deals.
    Sheilds camp needs to create a demand between a few clubs willing to bid against each other to drive the deal for him to get his 5th year or his AAV he is looking for.

  4. Wazooski says:

    Um … Uh … where is Hamels in this discussion?

    • Rich Herrera says:

      Great point I am working on that for a separate blog. I don’t think he gets moved until there one or both get signed. He is a horse and a set price the rest of his deal is close to Lester’s deal. He is more expensive though because not only to do you have to take on a chunk of change, but also top tier prospects. If you ask the Phiilies to take on some of his money then you don’t get as much back in prospects. So who ever trades for him has to take on a big deal and give up some major pieces of their farm system. What do you think he is worth?

  5. Wazooski says:

    regarding Hamels: What remains on his contract makes him ultimately cheaper – along with 3 top prospects to finalize the deal.

    • Rich Herrera says:

      It depends on what the Phillies demand back in prospects … for some of the others its a salary dump. For Hammels they will demand prospects back for Cole because he is not a rent a player. So if you get him you have to pay him and pay the Phillies with pieces of you farm system

  6. […] wrote this weekend about the market for James Shields and Max Scherzer and I was asked in the comment section what about Cole Hamels. […]

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