DETROIT (AP) — Max Scherzer was ready for all the questions — and he doesn't seem to mind that his contract status is such a big topic as spring training approaches.
"I figured you guys wanted to talk about it, but this is the perfect time, during the offseason, when we're not playing baseball," Scherzer said.
Scherzer was at Comerica Park on Thursday for the start of the Detroit Tigers' winter caravan. He recently agreed to a one-year, $15,525,000 deal with the Tigers, avoiding arbitration but leaving plenty of questions still unanswered about his future.
Scherzer, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, can become a free agent after this season. He says he has no problem fielding questions about his future now, before spring training starts. By the time opening day rolls around, though, he'll be focused on pitching.
So there's a sense the clock is ticking if the Tigers want to lock up their star right-hander before he reaches free agency. Detroit signed ace Justin Verlander to a $180 million, seven-year deal shortly before last season, avoiding the prospect of Verlander testing the open market. But Verlander was two seasons away from free agency. Scherzer has only one more to go.
"Every player wants to be a free agent," Scherzer said. "At the same time, you realize we've got a good thing here in Detroit."
The Tigers have won three straight AL Central titles, and Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season, winning the Cy Young two years after Verlander did.
General manager Dave Dombrowski didn't offer many specifics about the status of negotiations with Scherzer, but he left no doubt about how the organization feels about the 29-year-old pitcher.