Nationals get their man, agree to deal with Max Scherzer
The Washington Nationals added to their already-stacked rotation on Sunday night; just how long it remains this stacked remains to be seen.
The reigning National League East champions late Sunday night agreed to a seven-year contract with free-agent starter Max Scherzer, sources confirmed to FOX Sports MLB Insider Jon Paul Morosi.
On Monday, FOX Sports MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal was first to report the deal was worth $210 million.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the agreement and contract length.
Also on Sunday, sources told Morosi that the Nationals would trade starter Jordan Zimmermann (14-5, 2.66 ERA); furthermore, if Washington can’t work out a trade for Zimmermann, the Nats would be willing to deal former phenom Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14), Morosi says.
Scherzer, who spent the past five seasons with the Detroit Tigers before becoming a free agent, will receive the money from the Nationals spread out over 14 years, which lowers its present-day value, according to the Associated Press.
The 30-year-old right-hander’s contract is the second-largest for a pitcher, behind only Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw’s $215 million, seven-year deal that runs from 2014-20. The previous high for a righty was the $180 million, seven-year agreement from 2013-19 signed by Justin Verlander, another Cy Young Award winner for the Tigers.
Scherzer turned down an offer from Detroit last March that would have paid him $144 million from 2015-20, an average of $24 million per year.
The Nationals will lose what would have been the 27th pick in June’s amateur draft, while the Tigers will gain an extra pick after the first round.
All in all, for the Nationals, it’s a surprising move to upgrade an already imposing rotation after a relatively quiet offseason for the NL East champions.
Scherzer was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 2014, a year after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and being voted the best pitcher in the American League. He now joins a club whose starting staff in 2014 included Stephen Strasburg, Zimmermann, Doug Fister — Scherzer’s former teammate with the Tigers — Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark.
That group already was considered among the best — if not the best — rotation in the majors. The question now is what move could come next for the Nationals, who might pursue a trade.
Zimmermann went 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 199 2-3 innings in 2014, and he threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history on the last day of the regular season. But he can enter free agency after next season.
Last season, Strasburg was 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 215 innings; Fister was 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA; Gonzalez went 10-10 with a 3.57 ERA, and Roark went 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 198 2-3 innings.
Gonzalez, third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2012, is the only left-hander in the bunch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.