Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer and David Price: Headed for Big Paydays

Max Scherzer and David Price could each ask for a gold mine.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

So Ervin Santana’s asking price is 5 years, $100MM. Ricky Nolasco’s reported price tag is 5 years, $80MM. As ridiculous as those numbers sound – as Randy covered yesterday – there’s something else to think about when referencing these preposterous requests.

Some rumblings would have you believe that Detroit Tigers pitcher, and 2013 AL Cy Young favorite, Max Scherzer and Tampa Bay’s David Price might be available during this offseason. How much do you think this duo could demand when they hit free agency in comparison to what Santana and Nolasco are asking?

Tons more.

In nine seasons, Santana has amassed a record of 105-90 with an ERA of 4.19 and a WHIP of 1.281. In five of those seasons, he has hurled 200+IP. Four times, he has posted an ERA+ under 100. His career ERA+ is 100 and career fWAR: 19.6. If you prefer bWAR, that’s 15.7.

But look at Nolasco. Only twice in eight seasons has he posted an ERA+ over 100. Once was this past season (101) and the other was in 2008 (124). His next highest season in that stat is a 92 in 2010. Nolasco’s career ERA+: 94. Career fWAR and bWAR: 20.0 and 10.8, respectively. Nolasco’s career line is 89-75, 4.37 ERA, 1.288 WHIP.

Just another glimpse at the ridiculousness of their asking prices.

So what of Scherzer and Price?

2013 was the first time Scherzer crossed the 200 innings marker (214.1 IP). He enters his final year of being arbitration eligible and can hit the free agent market after the 2014 season. In his four season as a Tiger, Scherzer owns a 64-30 record, 3.62 ERA and 1.204 WHIP, including going 21-3 with an ERA of 2.90 and a WHIP of 0.970 this past season. Overall, he’s 73-45 with an ERA of 3.67 and WHIP of 1.229.

Again, Scherzer is the favorite to claim the AL Cy Young for this past season. Only once has he failed to reach 100 in ERA+ (93 in 2011). His next lowest is 108 in 2009 when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Career ERA+: 116. Oh, and Scherzer’s fWAR – for six total seasons – is 21.5. HIs bWAR is a bit lower at 18.0.

Scherzer can hit the free agent market after the 2014 season.

For Tampa Bay’s ace, Price already owns a Cy Young, winning the award for 2012. In his six seasons, his record is 71-39 with an ERA of 3.19 and a WHIP of 1.158. Like Scherzer, only once in six seasons has Price not achieved an ERA+ of 100, coming in at 98 in his 2009 season. 2009 also happens to be his first full season in the bigs. Price’s ERA+ for his career is 122.

Price’s career fWAR is 18.8, but he does own the highest bWAR among these four at 18.6.

Price can become a free agent after the 2015 season.

To bring these stats all together for the four…

Player W-L ERA WHIP ERA+ fWAR bWAR xFIP
Santana 105-90 4.19 1.281 100 19.6 15.7 4.36
Nolasco 89-75 4.37 1.288 94 20.0 10.8 3.76
Scherzer 73-45 3.67 1.229 116 21.5 18.0 3.49
Price 71-39 3.19 1.158 122 18.8 18.6 3.39

One area I also look at is how a pitcher’s team fares in games in which he’s started. I know a starter isn’t solely responsible once he leaves a game. Ask Scherzer about that. I also know a starter can be “forced” to leave late in a game even though his team is substantially ahead. Here’s the rundown on that for the four pitchers I have mentioned.

Scherzer: 165 GS, .576 TeamW%
Price: 147 GS, .619 TeamW%
Santana: 265 GS, .532 TeamW%
Nolasco: 212 GS, .519 TeamW%

If you’re a believer in Fangraphs and their translation of fWAR into dollars, here’s what you get for this quartet. The value represented is the sum for the last three years.

Scherzer: $64.3 with a peak of $32.0 for 2013
Price: $62.7 with a peak of $21.8 for 2013
Santana: $22.0, including a -4.5 for 2012 and a peak of $14.9 for 2013
Nolasco: $40.6 with a peak of $15.2 for 2013

The price of starting pitching has risen, but you were already aware of that, especially in lihgt of Santana’s and Nolasco’s “tags”.

What’s tricky here is Scherzer’s representation as he’s represented by Scott Boras. It is a rarity that Boras clients don’t hit the market. Among the 13 players that received a qualifying offer, four are Boras clients. Any team that would enter into trade talks with the Tigers must be cognizant of that. In essence, that team would be getting one year of service – as the Reds did this past season with Boras client Shin-Soo Choo – and be willing to enter the bidding war.

That will by far the most likely scenario with Scherzer. Rest assured, Price’s rep, Bo McKinnis, will keep an eye on that and the dealings with Santana and Nolasco.

Expect the bidding for Scherzer and Price to be higher than those of Santana and Nolasco. That goes without saying. Well, unless they are traded to a team that can afford to ante up for their services. If five years is the new ten years, then both could easily command $120MM-$140MM for a contract of that length.

Tags: David Price Max Scherzer