The risk Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer took by turning down $144 million from the Tigers before this season may not be as big as it appeared. Scherzer revealed to SI.com that he took out an insurance policy that covers lost potential earnings if he is injured prior to hitting the free agent market this winter.
"This takes the injury risk out of it," said Scherzer, who did not specify if the policy covered all or most of the $144 million.
Insurance policies for athletes against future earnings are not uncommon, though the amount involved with Scherzer's earning potential is considered high even in the world of sports. Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said he was covered by such a policy entering his walk year. Soccer player Cristiano Rinaldo was covered by a $153 million policy against injury to his lower half, but that policy was covered by his team, Real Madrid.
Scherzer, who turns 30 next month, turned down the seven-year offer from Detroit. He is expected to be one of most expensive free agents on the market this winter in a group that could also include Boston pitcher Jon Lester, Kansas City pitcher James Shields and Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez. Scherzer, the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner, is 79-47 with a 3.64 ERA in his seven-year career.
Scherzer said he asked his agent, Scott Boras, to research the incidence of injuries to pitchers around his age group. According to Scherzer, Boras found that injuries to pitchers decrease after they have posted four years in the big leagues. Their research also showed that position players are more likely to break down than pitchers in the service category of between four and nine years.
"Look at all the Tommy John injuries," Scherzer said. "They keep happening to young pitchers with less than four years in the major leagues."