San Diego -- Let the Max Scherzer sweepstakes begin!
With word late Tuesday night that Jon Lester had finally made his decision -- he's going to the Cubs on a six-year, $155-million deal -- all eyes are turning to member 1B of the Big Three.
That would be Scherzer.
There has been little dialogue about him to this point, but that's because so many teams were focused on Lester.
Lester decided on the Cubs over the Red Sox, Giants and, apparently, Dodgers.
Many of the Lester losers now are scrambling for a backup plan, and Scherzer, 31, is a pretty good one.
But Scherzer's not an automatic fallback for other teams, given the apparent price tag.
Agent Scott Boras is shooting for $200 million, which is absurd -- except that, as one agent said, "Boras always finds a way."
Here's a quick look at 10 clubs that could be in the mix for the ace right-hander, who's shined for the Tigers the last five years.
Yankees: There are some folks who say they'll go hard after Scherzer, and some who say their interest isn't what it appears. This we know: They've got unlimited resources. But they've also still paying a broken-down CC Sabathia, who's a harsh reminder just how risky it is to pay pitchers big bucks well into their 30s.
Tigers: Contrary to how some interpreted Dave Dombrowski's comments Tuesday, the Tigers aren't out on Scherzer. Nor are they likely to greatly increase their initial $144-million offer. Mike Ilitch loves big stars, and hasn't seen a significant free agent that he wanted to leave Detroit during the team's return to winning.
Nationals: Not every team has a very good relationship with Boras, the mega-agent who'd consider selling his soul to get an extra 10 bucks on a contract. But the Nationals do, and have shown willingness to spend big in recent years. A Scherzer deal could make Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister available in a trade.
Giants: This is a team to watch. They've have a great five-year run, winning three World Series, but they haven't had a very good offseason. They watched Pablo Sandoval leave for the Red Sox, and then whiffed on Lester. They've got freed-up cash. And they could want to make a statement.
Red Sox: Some assume since they missed on Lester, they'll turn to Scherzer. Not buying it, especially since they apparently only offered Lester $135 million. They are very uneasy about spending big on pitching, and they despise going more than five years. James Shields is more likely going here.
Dodgers: Another team that supposedly was in on Scherzer, but weren't taken overly seriously. They've got as much money to spend as anybody, but have little to show for the behemoth payroll the last few years. Andrew Friedman was brought in to make smarter purchases. Scherzer might not qualify.
White Sox: This is a darkhorse, given they've had their problems with Boras in the past -- and they've never been the most spend-happy team. But they might be changing their ways, given the Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke signings, and the trade for Jeff Samardzija. Scherzer would put them over the hump.
Rangers: They're only on this list because they desperately need pitching, and they've spent big in the past. Problem is, they've spent big in the past, and have huge contracts for Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder already on the books. Not sure there's room for another $160M deal. They need better value.
Blue Jays: It's doubtful they've got the money, though they've had another bold offseason, signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. Their offense has the pieces to be the most feared in the game, but starting pitching has huge shortcomings and, in current state, makes them a non-contender.
Cardinals: This is a team I heard floated around earlier this week, and there's some sense to be made -- especially given it'd be a homecoming for Scherzer, who grew up in Chesterfield, Mo. But St. Louis isn't known for breaking the bank. This is, after all, a team that let a legend, in Albert Pujols, leave town.