Max Scherzer to table talks in-season

Max Scherzer insists he will not discuss a new contract with the Detroit Tigers if a deal isn't reached by Opening Day.

Scherzer, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, can become a free agent after this season and likely would receive lucrative offers on the open market.

The 29-year-old Scherzer reiterated his willingness to negotiate with Detroit before he hits free agency but also said Friday that he will focus solely on pitching once the regular season starts.

"For me, now that I'm here in spring training, my focus right now is all about getting on the field and trying to win," Scherzer told reporters, according to the Detroit Free Press. "If it's not done by Opening Day, then I'm not going to negotiate during the season.

"This can be a major distraction. I understand I have a chance to secure my future here with the team. I want that to happen. But at the same time, I'm not going to drag negotiations out into the season. That's unfair to the team, unfair to me and my teammates. They don't need to have that type of thought process going on."

Scherzer and the Tigers avoided arbitration last month, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $15,525,000. The right-hander would not confirm whether his agent, Scott Boras, is actively discussing a long-term deal.

"I'm not discussing negotiations in the media," Scherzer said. "Those are private."

Detroit signed ace Justin 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.

Some other recent deals have given Scherzer a sense of the type of contract that could await him as a free agent.

Clayton Kershaw, a two-time Cy Young winner who is four years younger than Scherzer, reached a $215 million, seven-year agreement to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka came to terms with the New York Yankees for $155 million over seven years.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.