Tigers, Max Scherzer cut off extension talks

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As first reported by MLive.com’s Chris Iott, the Tigers made a final long-term extension offer this weekend to the representatives of right-hander Max Scherzer and had it rejected. The two sides will wait until the offseason to pick the negotiations back up, and there’s obviously now a very good chance that Scherzer will be hitting the open market.

“We made him an offer that would have placed him among highest paid pitchers in baseball,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told the media on Sunday morning. “They turned it down.”

Scherzer is set to earn $15.53 million in 2014 — his third and final season of salary arbitration.

The 29-year-old won American League Cy Young Award honors last season after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 240 strikeouts in 214 1/3 innings (32 starts). His agent is Scott Boras.

The Tigers signed Justin Verlander to a seven-year, $180 million extension last March.

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UPDATE, 1:19 p.m. ET: Boras has responded to Dombrowski’s statement, via ESPN.com:

“Max Scherzer made a substantial long-term contract extension offer to the Detroit Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected by Detroit,” Boras said. “Max is very happy with the city of Detroit, the fans and his teammates, and we will continue negotiating with the Tigers at season’s end.”

So there seems to be some disagreement between the parties about how the negotiations went down.

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UPDATE, 3:55 p.m. ET: According to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, the Tigers offered Scherzer a six-year, $144 million extension. Those are the same terms that ace lefty Cole Hamels got from the Phillies in 2012.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.