The Detroit Tigers said Sunday that reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer has rejected a "substantial" extension offer and as a result they have tabled contract talks with the right-hander until after the season.
Later Sunday, agent Scott Boras maintained that it was the Tigers that rejected Scherzer's offer but agreed that talks were over until after the season.
"The Detroit Tigers have made a substantial, long-term contract extension offer to Max Scherzer that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected," the team said in a statement.
"As we have reiterated, it has been the organization's intent to extend Max's contract and keep him in a Tigers uniform well beyond the 2014 season. While this offer would have accomplished that, the ballclub's focus remains on the start of the upcoming season, and competing for a World Championship. Moving forward there will be no further in-season negotiation and the organization will refrain from commenting on this matter."
Boras, in a phone conversation with ESPN.com on Sunday, countered the Tigers' statement by saying that Scherzer did not reject the offer but instead it was the team that turned it down. He confirmed that talks will be tabled until after the season.
"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 witth the Tigers at season's end."
An industry source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the Tigers' offer to Scherzer was for a slightly lower figure than the $25.7 million per year that Justin Verlander received in the extension he signed last spring, but still would have placed Scherzer among the top six highest-paid pitchers in baseball by average annual value of the deal.
That would mean the offer would have averaged at least $24 million a year. The only pitchers currently earning that much or more are the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($30.7 million per year), Verlander, the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez ($25 million per year), the Dodgers' Zack Greinke ($24.5 million per year), the New York Yankees' CC Sabathia ($24.4 million per year), and the Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee ($24 million per year) and Cole Hamels ($24 million per year).
Scherzer, 29, had said last month that he wouldn't negotiate a long-term contract with the Tigers during the season if an agreement couldn't be reached by Opening Day.
Scherzer and the Tigers avoided arbitration earlier this offseason, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $15,525,000. He is scheduled to become a free agent after the season.
Detroit signed Verlander to a $180 million, seven-year deal shortly before last season, avoiding the prospect of the 2011 league MVP testing the open market. But Verlander was two seasons away from free agency at the time.
The Tigers have won three straight AL Central titles, and Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season, winning the Cy Young two years after Verlander did.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press contributed to this report.