Tigers may trade Scherzer this winter before cost skyrockets

Baseball's winter trade market will feature a Cy Young winner.

Or two Cy Young winners.

The Rays will almost certainly trade David Price. But there's also a very real chance that the Tigers trade Max Scherzer, according to sources.

Scherzer hasn't won a Cy Young yet, but he's the heavy favorite to win the award in the American League this year after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, leading the league in WHIP (0.97) and finishing second to Yu Darvish in strikeouts.

So why would the Tigers trade him?

Because Scherzer is one year away from free agency and is a Scott Boras client who is very unlikely to sign a long-term deal this close to being able to test the market. The Tigers may make an attempt to sign him after this season, but they realize that it's unlikely he would accept a deal now.

With or without a new deal, Scherzer's 2014 salary figures to jump to somewhere around $20 million, a stiff price for a team that already has three players making more than $20 million a year (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander), and three others who will make between $12 million and $16 million next year (Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez).

And while the Tigers have been one of baseball's biggest spenders in recent years, there's some uncertainty if they'll continue to spend as much in the years to come.

If the Tigers do shop Scherzer, many teams would likely be interested, even though an acquiring team would face the same trouble locking him up long-term that the Tigers do.

The Nationals have long had interest in Scherzer, and have enough young pitching to get a deal done. The Rangers, who could chase Price, are another team with plenty of prospects and a need for a top pitcher. The Cardinals seem to churn out quality pitchers, but could believe that as a Missouri native, Scherzer would be more inclined to stay with them if they traded for him. The Orioles could be another possibility.

Other teams, such as the Yankees, Angels and Blue Jays, hope to acquire top pitching this winter, but likely don't have enough to trade for a pitcher as valuable as Scherzer.

Some baseball people familiar with the Tigers believe that the team's winter plans -- including a possible Scherzer trade -- could hinge on whether the Tigers win Thursday night's Game 5 in Oakland to advance to the AL Championship Series. There's some belief that if the Tigers lose that game, there could be significant changes before next season.

Win or lose, though, a Scherzer trade seems a real possibility.

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