Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals reached agreement on a three-year, $144 million contract, a deal that was first reported by ESPN.com. Scherzer had been coveted by numerous teams since reaching free agency following the 2018 season. While no other team offered Scherzer more than three years and $100 million, several teams sought to keep him for the long term.
That includes the New York Mets, who spent the past offseason transforming their team. After sending Giancarlo Stanton to the Miami Marlins for multiple prospects, including second baseman Robinson Cano, second baseman Robinson Aybar and catcher J.T. Realmuto, the Mets signed free agent second baseman Robinson Cano to a five-year, $240 million contract.
The Mets pursued Scherzer, making it clear that they were prepared to wait out the rest of the free agent class of starting pitchers. With the Cubs and Braves also pursuing Scherzer, there was speculation that the Mets would break the bank and offer the pitcher a deal worth at least five years and $100 million.
But in the end, Scherzer, who will turn 30 years old in February, was looking for at least three years and $100 million. Cano, on the other hand, received a five-year deal from the Mets worth $240 million, and the Mets planned to pay Cano at least $80 million in base salary in 2020.
As MLB.com’s Adam Rubin wrote:
It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that while it would take a little creativity from both sides to make these numbers work, the Mets have never done a three-year deal, even with Cano and Peraza in tow. They do, however, own an option, which means the offer could be designed as a shorter and cheaper option at the end, then flipped if Cano’s first year takes off.
The key for Scherzer will be a large staff around him. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman and infielder Wilmer Difo are under team control through the 2020 season, and both appear capable of staying healthy in that time.
The Nationals, meanwhile, have lost several starting pitchers to injury in 2018. Matt Moore’s arm didn’t work out, and his injury actually gave Scherzer a little extra time to consider his future. Entering Monday night’s game against the Mets, the veteran right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.13 ERA.