The first historical comparison that comes to mind, when wrapping the brain around the reality that 37-year-old Max Scherzer has joined the New York Mets, 36-year-old Roger Clemens is making his way to a trade from the Blue Jays. Yankees in 1999. Yet the Rockets did not so much for immediate financial gain (he was mid-contract) as for getting a World Series ring, a motivation that was for some reason heavily criticized at the time.
So no, I can’t remember an apple-to-apples example of such an accomplished player, someone who would be a first-ball Hall of Famer if he just retired, joining a team he would certainly be. Doesn’t rank higher than The list – a team still lacking a manager, let’s not forget it – because the money proved to be simply too much to close.
Risks abound for three years of Steve Cohen, a $130 million gamble on a man who last grabbed headlines from scratch by starting the playoffs due to fatigue. Yet for these Mets, with this owner, Scherzer represents a worthwhile risk.
The upside is sky-high not only because of the fact that Scherzer could still be on the mound, a co-ace with Jacob deGrom, but also because of who he lives in the clubhouse. For an organization that is in dire need of cleaning up the culture, their arrival seems potentially transformative.
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Dusty Baker, during his two years managing the Nationals (2016-17), urged young Washington pitchers to follow Scherzer and watch his preparation. Scherzer took the initiative to sit down with his junior moundman while he analyzed videos of past performances, serving as a de facto extra pitching coach.
As for his transition to New York, you know what goes so far as to not assume that a player will cruise through the scrutiny and accountability that our good field saves and demands. Although Scherzer, as a nationally recognized sportsperson who can be very vocal about “state of the game” issues such as the labor unrest, has historically been in the limelight and engages with journalists to that level. Where he sometimes asks for more time to consider a question and returns. With an answer later. Their Nationals served as Terry Collins’ primary rival to the 2015–16 Mets, and their Tigers eliminated the Yankees in the subsequent seasons of 2011 and 2012. He brings considerable street cred to the toughest road he’s ever worked on.
How tough the road gets in Scherzer’s performance. Can he repeat the excellence that showed him a third time on the 2021 National League Cy Young Awards ballot, the sixth time he held that high (including three Cy Young trophies)? Can he limit his physical breakdown to relatively minor issues, which he worked through last season to start 30 games and deGrom (which he called his own in the wake of his ’21 nightmare) to stay straight through October? Must be in good health). The game’s best top-of-the-rotation pairing meets? Speaking of which, at Citi Field, who will start the April 2 season opener (assuming there is a new collective bargaining agreement) against nationals from all clubs?
It will also be interesting to see how DeGrom, who will earn $20.5 million this season as another $15 million gets postponed, feels about pocketing less than half of Scherzer’s $43.33 million. Remember, he could be out after this season.
Look, if Scherzer turns out to be a disaster, his deal will present a good test for Cohen, the game’s richest boss ever, to see how willing he is to make up for the sunk costs. and will not allow them to become a hindrance in future expenses. That trial will arrive at some point, whether via Schaezer, Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte or the Met to be named later.
If Shazer wins that race he’d love to lose, he’ll still be worth the shot. If this is one of the weirdest big deals in recent memory, that doesn’t reduce how well it may be celebrated down the road.