The Washington Nationals bolstered their already stout starting rotation Sunday, agreeing to terms on a 7-year, $210 million deal with free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer.
The deal is deferred, meaning Scherzer will receiver $15 million annually for 14 years, and included a record $50 million signing bonus.
Scherzer, 30, made 32 starts for the Detroit Tigers in 2014. He finished with an 18-5 record, a 3.15 ERA, and 252 strikeouts in 220 1/3 innings pitched.
He captured the 2013 Cy Young Award after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts, and has also been selected to the last two All-Star games. He was chosen as the American League’s starting pitcher for the 2013 edition of the Midsummer Classic, pitching one inning and striking out one.
Before signing with Washington, Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144 million offer from the Tigers before the 2014 season, and a subsequent $15.3 million qualifying offer after the season.
By adding Scherzer, the Nationals, who are already considered to be the National League favorite to make the World Series this coming season, now boast a starting rotation that features Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and one of Scherzer’s former teammates with the Detroit Tigers, Doug Fister. The fifth man in the rotation from last season was Tanner Roark who will also be returning for 2015, but may lose his role as a starter if the Nationals choose not to move any of the other four pitchers.
At the winter meetings, general manager Mike Rizzo mentioned that to afford Scherzer, the Nationals would likely have to part with either Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister, as well as shortstop Ian Desmond.
Per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, reports are circulating that the Nationals plan to keep Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after this season and is viewed as their most sought after trade possibility, in an effort to reach, and win, the World Series.
Scherzer was considered by many to be the prize of the free agent market this offseason, a market that has already seen the signing of three-time All-Star Jon Lester by the Chicago Cubs, and in which the third-ranked free agent pitcher James Shields still waits for a deal.
After beginning his major league career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Scherzer was part of a three-team trade in 2009 that sent him to Detroit, pitcher Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, and outfielder Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees.
In five seasons with the Tigers, Scherzer went 82-35 with a 3.52 ERA and 1,081 strikeouts in 161 starts.