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Max Scherzer’s $200 million chase and how it affects the Yankees

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Will the Yankees open up the vault again for another Boras client?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Yankees have injury questions pertaining to every current starter in the 2015 rotation. Going into the offseason the prevailing thought was that team needed to add one and most likely two starters to solidify their starting staff. With Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano, and Brandon McCarthy coming off the board, pitchers should begin signing in rather short order, except for Scott Boras client Max Scherzer. Scott Boras has long been known to wait for the market to fully develop before engaging in serious negotiations with teams, allowing for maximum leverage and maximum financial return for his clients. The Yankees have come together on numerous deals in the past such as Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Rafael Soriano and most recently Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s widely known, that Boras will always market his players to the Yankees and allow them to top the highest offer that he has in hand before advising the player to go elsewhere.

The Yankees, have always been known as "Big Game" hunters when it comes to free agency as history has taught us. With offense at a premium, injury questions and pitching available on the market, it would make sense, that the team would make a run at Scherzer. Attendance has been trending the wrong direction since 2010 and with Derek Jeter’s retirement, we know that the team likes having star power to appeal and draw the fan base to the ballpark. Enter into the picture the crown jewel of this year’s free agent class: Max Scherzer. What is likely to happen to the Yankees if he signs?

If Scherzer's a Yankee

If the Yankees and Scherzer are able to come to an agreement, they’ll have two aces sitting at the top of their rotation and a fallback should the worst case scenario with Masahiro Tanaka occur. Let’s take a look at Scherzer's numbers from the past four seasons, courtesy of FanGraphs.

Year

IP

K/9

BB/9

FIP

HR/FB

WAR

2011

195

8.03

2.58

4.14

12.6

2.6

2012

187.2

11.08

2.88

3.27

11.6

4.5

2013

214.1

10.08

2.35

2.74

7.6

6.4

2014

220.1

10.29

2.57

2.85

7.5

5.6

The first thing that jumps out at is that he’s a workhorse, pitching in at least 187 innings each year since 2011. His walk rate, strikeout rate and FIP have all been elite as well; something that we know is part of the Yankees' pedigree of pitchers with swing-and-miss stuff. The one concern that most have would be his fly ball tendencies, but if his HR/FB numbers from the last two seasons continue, that as well would grade out as great. Basically his numbers are everything that you would expect from a prototypical ace.

Here’s a video of just how dominant Scherzer can be, courtesy of MLB.com

If Scherzer signs elsewhere

If Scherzer signs elsewhere, they’ll be putting a lot of faith that Tanaka’s UCL will hold up for the foreseeable future. With that said, there are still multiple avenues in which Cashman could upgrade the rotation. One such scenario could be to sign mid-tier starters like James Shields to hold down the three and four slots, until top prospects Luis Severino and Ian Clarkin are ready to take over in a couple years provided they develop well. Another possibility could be that he attempts to sign Shields and trade for a starter, like he did for Michael Pineda a few seasons ago.

Wrap up

At the end of the day, you need pitching depth and it’s hard to imagine that Cashman would field a rotation filled with injury question marks heading into the season. There have been multiple conflicting reports this offseason on the Yankees interest in Scherzer, but you can never rule out ownership getting involved to make a deal happen.  No matter what, this offseason will continue to be interesting in Yankee land.