DETROIT -- AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer agreed to a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers for $15,525,000, avoiding arbitration with free agency still looming less than a year away.
Scherzer could have an even bigger payday coming soon -- one way or another. He is eligible to go on the market after the season, although the Tigers would love to avoid that by signing him to a long-term contract.
General manager Dave Dombrowski said Friday this one-year agreement doesn't necessarily mean the Tigers are any less likely to sign Scherzer to a lengthier deal before opening day.
"We still have that desire," Dombrowski said.
Detroit announced Scherzer's deal along with one-year agreements with right-handers Rick Porcello and Al Alburquerque, and outfielders Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson. All had filed for arbitration.
The 29-year-old Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts last season, and the Tigers advanced to the AL championship series against Boston. He made $6,725,000 last year, and another stellar season could put the right-hander in position for a contract similar to those of teammate Justin Verlander ($180 million for seven years) and Seattle's Felix Hernandez ($175 million for seven) or even the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($215 million for seven).
Porcello went 13-8 with a 4.32 ERA and a career-high 142 strikeouts in 2013. Alburquerque appeared in 53 games, posting a 4-3 record and 4.59 ERA.
Dirks hit .256 with 16 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 37 RBIs. Jackson batted .272 with 30 doubles, seven triples, 12 homers and 49 RBIs.
Detroit freed up some money by trading first baseman Prince Fielder and right-hander Doug Fister, but the Tigers also signed closer Joe Nathan. With Verlander and right-hander Anibal Sanchez already earning big money, Detroit faces a challenge trying to keep together an impressive core.
Scherzer's deal was announced a day after David Price's one-year agreement with Tampa Bay. Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner, agreed at $14 million.
Verlander had core muscle repair surgery earlier this month, but he's expected back during spring training. If healthy, he and Scherzer form perhaps the best starting duo in baseball, with Sanchez, Porcello and Drew Smyly rounding out the rest of the rotation.