The Washington Nationals agreed to sign right-handed starter Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Scherzer's deal with the Nationals will be for $210 million with half deferred, meaning he will make $15 million for 14 years.
The signing of Scherzer came following an eventful Sunday in the baseball world. Reports surfaced early Sunday that there was an "increasing sense" around the league that Scherzer would sign with the Nationals. More reports followed, saying that Scherzer had two seven-year deals, one of which from the Nationals. Then, late Sunday, a report stated that the pact with Washington was close.
The Nationals were mentioned as a possible suitor for Scherzer throughout the offseason, but many believed that with their rotation, they would only sign Scherzer if they thought they could unload another starter. That could mean that Jordan Zimmermann or even Stephen Strasburg is on the move. However, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the early view is that Nationals plan to keep Zimmermann.
The Nationals rotation looks like this: Scherzer, Zimmermann, Strasburg, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez. They have now run out of room for Tanner Roark, who will likely head to the bullpen in 2015. This rotation should be able to allow the Nationals to blow through the regular season and into the playoffs, with a real chance of winning the World Series. They had that chance even before signing Scherzer, but now they are more built and prepared to make a run deep into October.
Scherzer's $210 million guarantee is by far the largest contract on the Nationals, blowing away Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126 million deal that brought him from Philadelphia to Washington.
Would the Nationals have been better off extending Zimmermann for less than Scherzer's $180 million and not worrying about what to do with him now? I don't know. Zimmermann and Scherzer are similar, however, Zimmermann is two years younger and did post better numbers last season. However, Scherzer is a Cy Young award winner, and not too often does someone of his caliber go on the market.
Scherzer was a 1st round pick back in the 2006 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2009, he was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Tigers in a three-team deal with the Yankees. Over his seven-year big league career, Scherzer is 91-50 with a 3.58 ERA, 1.219 WHIP, and a 3.39 FIP, to go along with a 117 Adjusted ERA+ in 1239.1 innings pitched. He's a two-time All-Star and the 2013 AL Cy Young award winner.
Last season, the 30-year-old Scherzer went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, and a 2.85 FIP. He registered a 252 to 63 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 220.1 innings pitched. He was worth 6.0 rWAR.