At least publicly, it was a relatively slow and quiet free agency for Max Scherzer, who at the outset of the offseason was somewhat over shadowed by Jon Lester also being available. After Lester signed with the Chicago Cubs, the expectation was the market would quickly form for Scherzer and James Shields.
After rejecting a six year, $144 million offer from the Detroit Tigers last spring, Scherzer’s bold decision appears to have paid off as according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, he’ll receive $210 million over 14 years from the Washington Nationals:
Source: Scherzer deal with #Nationals is seven years, $210M with half deferred. He will receive $15M per year for 14 years.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2015
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, Scherzer’s seven-year deal includes a $50 million signing bonus, also to be paid over a duration of time:
Sources: Max Scherzer's deal includes a $50M signing bonus to be paid out over a portion of time. Structured that way for tax purposes.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 19, 2015
The $105 million in deferred money is the most in baseball history. After winning 96 games last season, the most in the National League and second-most overall, the Nationals were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Although not initially mentioned as potential suitors for Scherzer, the Nationals’ aggression has landed them the best pitching staff in baseball, at least for the time being.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ financial resources had many expecting them to be in play for Lester, Scherzer or Shields, but that hasn’t proven to be true outside of exploratory interest. Amid reports of Scherzer and the Nationals nearing an agreement on Sunday, the Dodgers signed Erik Bedard to a Minor League deal.
Scherzer is a career 91-50 with a 3.58 ERA in seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tigers. He won the 2013 AL Cy Young Award and has made the All-Star team in each of the last two seasons.
Scherzer’s $210 million deal is second all-time for a starting pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw’s $215 million contract, but ahead of Justin Verlander’s deal ($180 million, though there was $40 million remaining when he signed new contract) and Felix Hernadez’s ($175 million).