Max Scherzer and the Tigers have agreed to a one year, $15.525 million deal to avoid arbitration. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — Max Scherzer’s outstanding 2013 season became a gold mine for him Friday when he more than doubled his salary.
At the same time, he avoided the rigors of arbitration.
Ending up with a one-year agreement for $15.525 million, Scherzer was the headliner of the six Tigers eligible for arbitration, five of whom signed.
The only one who didn’t was catcher Alex Avila.
As the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Scherzer was going to get a healthy hike in pay. That much was known.
What wasn’t known was, A) whether he would emerge from Friday’s negotiations with a contract or be at an impasse, and B) if he and the Tigers would advance to an exchange of salary numbers, with the proposals of both sides becoming public.
But there was no impasse.
And there was no exchange.
“We didn’t go that route at all,” said John Westhoff, the vice president who handles contract negotiations for the Tigers. “This was a agreement without exchanged numbers as you might think of exchanged numbers.”
In other words, it sounds as if both sides knew the salary range that would apply to Scherzer.
That didn’t make it all a breeze, however. When it comes to Arbitration Friday, it never is.
“For me, they are the two busiest days of the year,” Westhoff said of Thursday and Friday. “Every year is different, and you just never can be sure until it all unfolds.”
Westhoff said that at the beginning of business Friday he “felt good” about two of the cases, “unsure” about a few more and — not necessarily about Scherzer, whose agent is Scott Boras — “certain we’d be going to arbitration with one.”
Since Westhoff joined the Tigers in 2002, the team hasn’t been taken to an arbitration hearing by any player.
An exchange of numbers with Avila this year (the catcher wants $5.35 million, the Tigers offered $3.75 million) doesn’t mean a hearing is imminent, but the next stage is for one to be scheduled.
An agreement can be reached before then, however, as was the case with Scherzer last year.
The other four Tigers who reached an agreement were pitchers Rick Porcello ($8.5 million) and Al Alburquerque ($837,500), and outfielders Austin Jackson ($6 million) and Andy Dirks ($1.625 million).