Nationals Sign Max Scherzer

If you haven’t already heard, the best pitching staff in the NL East just got one man stronger — the Nationals have agreed with Max Scherzer on a 7-year, $200M+ contract.

With Scherzer in the fold, the Nats now have a fantasy-like rotation that also includes Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark. Hmm … six pitchers for five spots … there appears to be a surplus.

I’m not sure what would be more dismaying to Mets fans and the rest of the NL East — if the Nats deal from that surplus, or keep all the arms together. Sure, the knee-jerk, obvious reaction is that Washington will quickly unload Zimmerman or Fister, as each are in a walk year. But then again, if you can afford to keep everyone, and you’re going for a World Championship, why be in such a rush to trade away a pitcher? Rare is the season that a club gets 32-33 starts each from their projected five starters — inevitably, someone goes down, if not for a few starts, than a bulk of the season. So why not keep as many quality arms as one can, as insurance against injury (or injuries)?

If indeed the Nationals DO keep all six starters, they’re going to be extremely tough to unseat from atop the NL East, as they’ll have one of the top rotations in all of baseball, and insulated from setbacks. Looking around their roster, they don’t have any glaring holes that will prevent them from winning. They’ll be without Jayson Werth for the first part of the season, so a big bat for the corner outfield would be nice, but likely won’t be necessary. Maybe they could upgrade the bullpen a bit — such as, insurance against Drew Storen going down or messing the bed. Otherwise, they’re in pretty good shape and don’t necessarily NEED to trade one of their starters.

Because they don’t need to trade a starting pitcher makes the Nationals particularly dangerous — because now, they can sit back and wait for a fantastic trade offer to arrive in their lap. Ideally, they’ll wait through spring training — first, just in case one of their arms goes down, and second, because an opposing team’s pitcher is bound to be lost for the season, which increases demand. Maybe the Nats will pick up a lights-out late-inning reliever. Maybe they’ll get a big bat. Maybe they’ll receive a package of near-ready prospects that will make up for the players they’ll lose after 2015. They’re in the driver’s seat, for now.

What do you think of this latest news? What would YOU do, if you were the Nationals? Trade, or keep? Sound off in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Bat January 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm
    To my recollection, no one commented on my post but a couple months ago I proposed the Mets do what the Nationals just did – think outside the box and try to improve at every position and every spot in the rotation or relief.

    In effect, what I said was “Look, even if Duda just had a big year they should think about whether they should sign a 1B and trade Duda to shore up another position. Even if they have Wright they should think about whether to sign Sandoval and move Wright and his aching shoulder to 1B (and trade Duda). They should consider signing Hanley and playing him in LF. The Mets should think outside the box like some other teams seem to be doing and try to improve AT EVERY POSITION rather than just trying to improve at SS, which is likely to be a futile effort because that position is so weak throughout MLB.”

    That is the basic gist of what I said.

    The Nationals just did what I proposed the Mets do two months ago. Their starting rotation was already very strong, and they decided to make it even stronger (likely dealing the weakest link for future assets (i.e., prospects).

    The Mets should have considered signing Scherzer. They talk about their starting rotation as if it is some cut-and-dried, axiomatic fact that the rotation will be dominant. Let’s play devil’s advocate and look at the downside of each Mets rotation pitcher shall we?

    (1) Harvey – people keep talking about this guy as if he’s going to be lights out in 2015. That is highly unlikely when you look at the stats of pitchers in their first year of post-Tommy John recovery. He’ll be on an innings limit for sure, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if he wasn’t that good in the innings he pitches.

    (2) deGrom – yeah, he looked good in 2014. Really good. But is it a guarantee he is indeed the pitcher he was in 2014? No.

    (3) Wheeler – control issues still plague this guy and I think it’s still possible he could be the second coming of Ron Darling. That is, a talented pitcher who labors in games due to high pitch counts and wildness and never realizes his full potential. Look at Darling’s WAR page before you chastise me for daring to criticize an ’86 Met.

    (4) Niese – A major injury risk in my opinion. Velocity has been declining periodically, and even if he doesn’t go down with an injury he’s not the high impact guy we thought he was a few years ago so likely mediocre performance at best.

    (5) Colon – Where to begin. Over 40 years old, and more innings in 2014 than in any year of his career since 2005. People talk as if he is guaranteed to eat innings, but I don’t see it as he will turn 42 years old shortly after the All-Star break. Highly likely to break down at some point.

    Yes, Syndergaard and Montero are likely to be ready if Niese or Colon or any of the others (notably, Harvey) falter, but we don’t even know what Syndergaard and Montero are. Surely Syndergaard and Montero are less proven than Tanner Roark or whoever just got kicked out of the Nats rotation.

    Maybe – maybe even “likely” the Nats come to regret this deal in the future. But boy it’d be nice to add a big-time player in the offseason rather than adding an old, overpriced Cuddyer ($21 million plus a first round pick) plus Mayberry and Gilmartin.

    Even just writing the Mets offseason additions makes me sad.

    I really despise the Wilpons.

    • Joe Janish January 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm
      Whoa, Bat … if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were coming around to the dark side.

      Welcome to the party!

  2. Bat January 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm
    Joe, with respect to your point, I have never said that I think the team as currently constituted is a World Series contender. What I object to is – for example – criticizing the Mets brain trust for not signing a guy, but if the same guy was signed the brain trust would also be criticized. Sometimes I think the Mets hierarchy is in a no-win position on this blog.

    But I have never said that I think the current product the Mets are going to put on the field should not be improved. And further, as I have often said, I put the blame much, much more on the Wilpons then on Alderson, D3PO, Ricciardi, and Ricco – how can a New York team spend like this little year after year? Look at the way the Yankees, Knicks, and Nets spend.

    But with respect to the braintrust I also don’t see much A’s / Padres type of outside the box thinking (although I think the Padres are going to regret some of those trades. So I’m not saying Minaya / Al Harazin type trades or signings just to get headlines are good, but I do think these guys are too content with what they have and are not looking at the downside, which is considerable).

    Also Joe note that the Scherzer gross contract is 7 years / $210 million but because a substantial amount is deferred I read that the present value of the amount is closer to 7 years and $180 million, which is $30 million less than $210 million.

    • Joe Janish January 19, 2015 at 6:37 pm
      The fantasy front office is an extension of ownership. Puppets and puppeteers. As long as the puppets are the ones being put out in the public, they will be the ones to be flogged — they are being paid to take the heat so the Wilpons can enjoy martinis with the well-heeled folks at the country club. Omar Minaya took the heat from 2004-2010, and now it’s the FFO’s turn. In the end, it all goes back to ownership, because ultimately, this is their team and they make ALL of the financial decisions. (Yes, it was ownership that decided to pay Bay, Santana, Castillo, Beltran, Pedro, etc. and be “stuck” with all of those “bad contracts” that “put the Mets in such a bad position.”)

      And you’re correct: the Mets are in a no-win situation at this blog. As soon as new ownership takes over, there’s a chance this blog will change its slant. I think I mentioned a half-dozen times in the past, this site is the FOX News version of Mets blogs — providing a fair and balanced viewpoint.

      Thank you for identifying / correcting Scherzer’s contract numbers. Once financial considerations get into nine figures, my already scant attention to detail falls to the wayside.

    • DanB January 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      First of all, I don’t know if I responded directly to that one post of yours, but I have been ranting and raving all off season that Mets need to look to improve their team and it didn’t matter at what position. I would of loved for them to improve their starting pitching because relying on a pitcher who is 12-10 with 237 innings pitched coming off TJS to lead your team is not only scary, but they need to be the TOP starting rotation in the NL to overcome their lack of defense and hitting. The Nationals looked for opportunities to be the best team. The Mets just look for ways to get rid of problems. It is as if they don’t see the need to excel — that they would be happy with 85 wins. And I am tired of being told when we want to trade for an established player that it will take too many prospects. But when we want to trade away an established player we are told nobody wants to give prospects. When fans ask for a free agent, we are told the market is over priced (by the way, when teams are bidding on free agents and the highest bidder wins, by definition that means the signing team is over paying, By definition, they are paying more then any other team is willing to pay. That is how bidding works). Listening to Alderson, it is impossible to build a winning team and every team should be expected to win less then 82 games.

      You are right when you said, “Sometimes I think the Mets hierarchy is in a no-win position on this blog.” I know I am so negative on the Wilpons that I assume what ever move they make, is the wrong one. So far I am right more then I am wrong. But the one thing that could eliminate all negativity on this blog is to simply win. Win a lot. Win World Series. At least win a division championship. But I have no more patience for being told that my team will not be good this year, but maybe next year. 79 wins is not good enough. Even winning a wild card slot is not good enough. All the Mets have to do is win 95 games and I will admit I was wrong when I say the Mets will never be a consistently good team while the Wilpons are the owners. I hope and pray for that day when I can say I am wrong.

  3. DaveSchneck January 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm
    I guess this puts the Dillon Gee for Ian Desmond trade suggestions to rest. ***sigh***

    Trader Sandy aka Rip Van Alderson aka Wilpon Million Dollar Mouthpiece is playing marbles while Rizzo plays chess. Freddie Wilpon is more “optimistic” than every since Mr. Alderson took over. “A winning season”, “meaningful games in September” overwhelms them with glee. The Nats aren’t even bothered with figuring out how to win the division, they are concerning themselves with how to win 3 of 5 and 4 of 7 series in order to procure a championship.

    Outside of selling off a potential HOF outfielder and the reigning Cy Young champion for unproven prospects, Alderson has been thoroughly whooped by the rest of baseball. How much he is to blame vs. the ownership doesn’t matter.

    I still look forward to baseball, real games, and Met games, but there is no evidence that anything has changed in Flushing.

    • Dan42 January 19, 2015 at 9:42 pm
      Ah, but there are changes, some of the fences have been moved in, and Fred is now MLB’s Finance Chair. It may take a while, but the Wilpon touch may level the playing field to the point where the small market Mets are the team to beat.
    • david January 20, 2015 at 7:26 pm
      I love the nickname Rip Van Alderson. How many years has be been saying he is now in a postion to make a deal, he now has the prospects, his hands are not tied, blah, blah, blah. Fact – we traded Germen for “cash considerations”. Well done.

      The more I think about the Desmond deal that did not come to fruition, the more it resembles the Gary Carter acquistion. First, the trading partner is the same team albeit rebranded and relocated from the Montreal Expos. Second, the Expos gave up the leader of their team at that time in dealing Carter. Third, the position involved is a defensive cornerstone. Fourth, the players involved both had flaws in relation to hitting for average and striking out that were offset by good power and RBI production the latter of which is also reflected in a reputation for being clutch.

      Wilpon being appointed the head of the league’s finance committee is staggering given the claims of wilful blindness and the ensuing settlement of those claims. It shows poor judgment by the new commissioner and should dispel any hopes the fans had of the league taking a more robust attitude towards ownership.

      • DanB January 21, 2015 at 9:39 am
        I saw the Yankees traded German for cash considerations. Smart move by Cashman. I only wish Sandy could of been as creative. Do you think Germen will wear a Yankee hat if he is voted into the Hall of Fame?
      • DaveSchneck January 21, 2015 at 10:59 am
        I can’t stand the Wilpons as owners, but this talk over the years of the commissioner “stepping in” and forcing an ownership change is just pipe dreaming. Had the Picard $1 billion lawsuit stuck, then, yes, there would have been grounds for action. Aside from that, this $25 million loan from MLB has been extremely misrepresented, and was nothing more than a favor by Uncle Bud so the Wilpons didn’t have to liquidate any other of their assets to temporarily provide cash for the team. This is true because shortly after that loan, the Mets “sold” $20 million dollars shares, most of which were purchased by the Wilpon family and SNY. These guys have plenty of dough, make no mistake, which makes them even worse owners. Ultimately, like any other business, the customers vote with their wallets. So long as 2 million plus go to the games, SNY gets millions from subscriptions and advertisements, the Wilpons can run their business as the choose. Virtually everyone in MLB is making money now, so there is no motivation to get on the Wilpons by other owners who “need” the NL frnachise in NYC to be good. So, for us fans, the choice is to find another hobby or get stuck rooting for disingenuous ownership that operates the team on a shoestring while charging premium prices to the customer base.
  4. DanS January 20, 2015 at 6:05 pm
    Today’s Mets “shocker”: According to’s Anthony DiComo, the Mets are not pursuing Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada. DiComo says the Mets’ front office has “done due diligence” on the 19-year-old Moncada, but “don’t view him as a realistic option given their budget.”
    • DanB January 21, 2015 at 9:42 am
      Hey, that video scoreboard was expensive. Going to Citi Field will be like walking into an apartment where the rent is always late but there is a large flat screen.