Is Scherzer really worth more than Shields, Lester?

Free agent right-hander James Shields is asking for approximately five years and $110 million according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

That is about the same as the contract any team that trades for lefty Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies will inherit. Does this mean that Max Scherzer will finally lower his ridiculous asking price of $200 million?

Clayton Kershaw. Getty Images.
Clayton Kershaw. Getty Images.

Seriously though, Scherzer is good. There’s no doubt about that but it seems rather arrogant of him, asking for a contract like Clayton Kershaw‘s. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh.

Scherzer has been solid his entire career. He has been in the league seven seasons, is a two-time All-Star, won a Cy Young Award in 2013 and owns a career ERA of 3.58.

By comparison, his numbers and accomplishments are not that different from James Shields. Though Shields has never won a Cy Young and has only been to the All-Star game once, he’s he’s been in the league nine years and posts a 3.72 ERA which considering the extra two seasons isn’t much higher.

It’s similar to the two pitcher’s difference in winning percentage. Scherzer’s is .645 in his career and Shields’ is .559. Shields has played in more games so of course his winning percentage would be a bit lower than Scherzer’s.

Not to mention the fact that Scherzer’s average was boosted by the fact that he won 21 games in 2013 (a winning percentage of .887!) and part of that credit goes to the rest of his team, being that up until 2014 he’d never gone a full nine-innings.

James Shields. Getty Images.
James Shields. Getty Images.

Shields is a workhorse whereas Scherzer has not yet proven to be one. Shields has pitched well over 200 innings every year of his career except his rookie season, where Scherzer has in only the past two seasons. Shields appears more durable than Scherzer.

Twice in his career Shields has led the league in complete game shutouts and in 2011 he pitched 11 complete games, four of them shutouts. Scherzer pitched the first complete game of his career in just last season, after he’d won his Cy Young Award.

Then there is Jon Lester. Scherzer was the number one free agent going into the offseason but as it happened Lester became the player most sought after. Lester’s numbers too are not that different than Scherzer’s either.

Both have a winning percentage in the .600’s (Scherzer: .645, Lester:.634) and Lester has, like Shields been in the league two years longer. Lester has a career ERA of .358 which is exactly the same as Scherzer’s. He’s also pitched more many complete games and pitched more innings each season than Scherzer.

Jon Lester. Getty Images.
Jon Lester. Getty Images.

So does Scherzer think that because he has a Cy Young Award and is two years younger than Shields and Lester, that makes him worth more money when the statistics show that the three pitchers really are not that different?

Still he’ll likely get more money than Shields is asking for. I’m assuming somewhere in the vicinity of the six-years and $155 million Jon Lester was given upon signing with the Chicago Cubs. That’s only a $10 million difference from the offer he turned down last March.

The Detroit Tigers offered Scherzer an extension of six years and $144 million during spring training which he turned down in order to pursue the free agent market after the season.

That isn’t exactly working out for him right about now. He’s barely gotten any interest, let alone offers.

Teams that lost out on Lester, namely the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants are reportedly more interested in Shields. Giants’ GM Brian Sabean went as far as saying the team has not talked to Scherzer and nor do they plan to.

This is GM of the same team that was ready to offer Lester a seven-year deal in order to bring him to San Francisco. That failed, and they are still not interested in Scherzer, but in Shields.

All of this should certainly put pressure on Scherzer, who should be getting a little nervous at the lack of interest in him, let alone offers.

He might need to take a step back and realize that he is not Kershaw and that he is more of a pitcher along the lines of Shields and Lester, which is NOT a bad thing!

After all of this it could turn out that Scherzer ends up with the same contract and with a spot on the same team. It appears that Scherzer is not likely to get his $200 million and will either end up signing a one-year deal somewhere or taking an offer, similar to the one the the Tigers alreay offered him. 

Johnny Cueto. Getty Images.
Johnny Cueto. Getty Images.

If he doesn’t sign with the Tigers and takes a one-year deal somewhere, it would be extremely shocking due to the number of other elite pitchers coming up on free agency after the 2015 season, including the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Cueto and the Tiger’s David Price.

So the market will be just as, if not more full of good starting pitching than it is this hot stove season. Teams would rather give up prospects for an elite left-hander like Cole Hamels than sign Scherzer.

It’d be in Scherzer’s best interest to lower his asking price somewhere more near to the pitchers he compares with like Shields and Lester. He should not be thinking that he’s the next Clayton Kershaw because as good as he his – he’s not ever going to deserve Clayton Kershaw type money.

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