The Detroit Tigers have all but relegated themselves to playing next season without last season’s ace, Max Scherzer

In fact, they pretty much did so in March when Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144 million extension offer. Once that happened, general manager Dave Dombrowski was pretty much free to start allocating the extra savings elsewhere.

Now here the Tigers are, eight months later. Scherzer’s free-agent market has not developed a month into the offseason, which was expected, and the Tigers have all but discounted him as an option for next season.

“Back then only we could have signed him,” Dombrowski said at the GM meetings earlier this month via Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “Now, 29 other teams could sign him. As you see, the odds don’t improve.”

Dombrowski must now figure out how to dole out the money the Tigers will save assuming they lose Scherzer along with right fielder Torii Hunter. Just based on last season’s salaries, that is a savings of nearly $30 million for 2015 between those players, and the Tigers have needs.

They can do without re-signing Scherzer or someone comparable like Jon Lester, which is why they are not in the rumor mix for either guy. David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello make up the rotation for next season. Whoever the Tigers stick in the fifth spot will round out a formidable fivesome that is still good enough to compete for the American League Central title.

This is of course assuming the Tigers have no desire to trade Price or Porcello, who each have one year remaining before they can become free agents and possibly walk away from the Tigers as Scherzer is expected to do. Knowing the Tigers are in danger of losing those guys for nothing but a compensation draft pick, the Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox have poked around about acquiring one or both of those pitchers. Even Sanchez has been a topic of conversation.

Trading from that pile would leave the Tigers searching for pitching, but as of now they don’t have a pressing need there. Most of the team’s immediate uncertainty is in the bullpen. That unit was among the worst in the majors—27th in ERA (4.29)—and closer Joe Nathan was second in the league with seven blown saves.

Regardless of last season’s ugliness, Dombrowski has said he is comfortable with his reliever situation. Part of the reason is because the Tigers picked up Joakim Soria’s $7 million option after trading for him during last season, and they expect to have Bruce Rondon ready for spring training after he missed last season because of Tommy John surgery.

Even still, the bullpen can’t be called reliable until it performs as such, and with the money the team is saving on Scherzer, adding a quality, dominant free-agent reliever like Andrew Miller seems like the easy play. Miller, who was drafted by the Tigers in the first round in 2006, had a 2.02 ERA and 0.802 WHIP in 62.1 relief innings last season between the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. The Tigers even witnessed his dominance firsthand in October when Miller pitched 3.1 scoreless innings against them in the American League Division Series.

However, the Tigers seem to have zero interest in Miller. While the bullpen needs more help than just one arm, if Dombrowski truly is comfortable with his current guys, adding someone like Miller should make him ecstatic. This is a guy capable of pitching in any inning, including the ninth, and averaged 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings while pitching better than his ERA (1.51 FIP).

Those numbers could push Miller’s average annual value beyond $10 million. But even with that money, the Tigers have their infield, catcher and one of their outfield positions locked in, so splurging in the bullpen seems reasonable.

“I think he’s the perfect fit for the Tigers,” Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci said on MLB Network on Monday.

Alas, the Tigers are likely to pass on Miller. If they find themselves in another bullpen mess come next July, they could be greatly regretting that decision.

The Tigers have this money, but how they will spend it seems to be a mystery. What is known is they are in a win-now mode and watching their window to contend for a World Series close as they rely on aging stars. So hoarding the money won’t do them any good, especially since they already chucked $68 million at Victor Martinez this offseason.

The Kansas City Royals are now a legitimate threat to the top of the division, and if the Tigers can’t find a way to effectively allocate the money they are saving on Scherzer, the Tigers could lose that crown for the first time in five years.

Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News, and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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