Sad but true. The Nationals are set to pay their best pitcher in franchise history $45 million across the next three seasons to play for the Mets.
If Max Scherzer signing with the rival Mets wasn’t bad enough for Nationals fans, then your day is about to get a whole lot worse. When Scherzer originally signed his seven-year deal with the Nationals back in 2015, it was agreed that he would receive $105 million in deferrals (increments of $15 million a year) from 2022-2028.
After Scherzer was flipped to the Dodgers at the 2021 trade deadline, the Dodgers agreed to pay Scherzer’s deferrals for 2028. Meaning, over the next six seasons, Washington will be paying Scherzer the $15 million a year that he’s owed, to consequently dominate against them.
Back when the contract was originally agreed upon, no one in the Nationals front office would have dreamed that he would end his career with a different team. Everyone believed at the time, Scherzer would help get Washington over the hump and he would eventually retire a National.
Well, the first part came true. Scherzer helped lead the Nationals to three playoff appearances and was instrumental in the team’s 2019 World Series run. During the 2019 playoffs, Scherzer went 3-0, with 2.40 ERA, and 37 strikeouts in six appearances.
But the team’s World Series core grew old and key players left in free agency or landed on the IL. Facing an inevitable rebuild, Mike Rizzo pulled the trigger and Max Scherzer was one of the many Nationals shipped out at the deadline.
Now there are two ways to look at this. The deferrals in Scherzer’s contract made it possible for Washington to allocate money to other positions in order to fill out the roster. Most of the money didn’t start kicking in till 2019, leaving the Nats a few years of breathing room.
On the other hand, paying Scherzer his deferrals while he plays for the Mets is a hard pill to swallow. Washington has their eyes set on returning to contention in the next 2-3 years, but Scherzer provides a heavy obstacle. The future Hall of Famer is still one of the best starters in the game and the Nats will need to overcome him if they are to win the NL East again.