The Detroit Tigers have been without Justin Verlander since spring training and it's unknown when he'll return to MLB action. Rumors suggest another one of their top starters may not be with the club after this season, which will really hurt the starting rotation.
That man is David Price.
Price told Chris Iott of MLive.com that he hasn't heard anything when asked if there was anything new regarding contract extension talks with the Tigers. At the beginning of April it was reported the two sides may not reach an agreement before the season ends unless it happened to be a "Clayton Kershaw-type deal." Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215 million contract with the Dodgers before the 2014 season.
Iott doesn't think Price and the Tigers will reach a deal soon because of "dollars and common sense." He believes Detroit could face a similar situation with Price as they did with Max Scherzer last season. The Tigers offered Scherzer a six-year, $144 million extension prior to the 2014 season, but the right-hander rejected the deal and opted to play out the entire season in hopes of getting a bigger contract in free agency. The team never re-entered talks with him after that.
Scherzer eventually signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Washington Nationals.
"If the market continues to climb, if Price is the best pitcher on the market next offseason and if he's better than Scherzer, why would he sign now for less than Scherzer got? Price can get a nine-figure contract that starts with a '2' if he pitches close to his potential and stays healthy this season," Iott wrote earlier in the offseason.
He also notes there will certainly be teams interesting in signing Price, no matter how excessive the demands might get.
"Don't argue that winning should be more important to players than dollar figures. Price can get a huge deal and sign with a team with just as good or a better chance to win than the Tigers have. Scherzer did it. One would expect teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs to get involved with Price."
The Dodgers and Yankees continue to face issues with their starting rotations and the Cubs will certainly have the cash in the offseason to throw a big contract at Price, especially if they feel they have an even greater chance to contend in 2016 (depending on how their young core performs in 2015).
Price said he was open to contract extension talks with the Tigers and his agent has talked to the team about it, but it's unclear how far along they've gotten. The latest rumors suggested Price hopes to play for a National League team after this season, but the validity of that assessment is also unknown.
It's obvious the Tigers want to keep Price, but with one of the highest payrolls in baseball it's unclear if the team's ownership will want to potentially put a $200 million contract on the books for 2016 and beyond.