As if a 10-year playoff drought wasn’t enough, life just got a little tougher on the Phillies in the National League East.
Max Scherzer is on his way to the New York Mets, according to multiple reports from reputable media outlets.
Scherzer will sign a three-year contract worth $130 million. That’s an astounding average annual value of $43.3 million.
Monday’s agreement between Scherzer and the Mets came as the business of baseball was bracing to come to a stop. The labor pact between MLB owners and the Players Association is set to expire Wednesday night and that could be followed by a management-imposed lockout and a freeze on all transactions.
The Mets, who led the NL East for the better part of four months only to slip behind the Phillies and eventual division and World Series champion Atlanta Braves on their way to a third-place finish in 2021, have engaged in a flurry of activity in recent days.
Prior to hammering out a deal with Scherzer, the club signed free agent outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte as well as infielder Eduardo Escobar.
Scherzer is the big prize. The 37-year-old right-hander, a sure-fire, future first-ballot Hall of Famer, has won three Cy Young Awards, two in the National League and one in the American League. He finished third in this year’s voting while leading the majors with an 0.864 WHIP while pitching for Washington and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals traded him in July and he went 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts for the Dodgers down the stretch. The Dodgers won all 11 of those games.
The Dodgers had expressed a desire to keep Scherzer, but the Mets came in and blew everyone away. The $43.3 million AAV on Scherzer’s deal soars past the next highest AAV in the game, Gerrit Cole’s $36 million yearly average with the Yankees.
With Scherzer joining Jacob deGrom, the Mets have a powerful 1-2 punch built for October. Since the start of 2018, deGrom ranks first (1.94) and Scherzer third (2.74) in ERA among qualifying major-league starters. Justin Verlander is second at 2.56.
DeGrom is a two-time NL Cy Young winner and was on his way to a historic season – he had a 1.08 ERA, 146 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 92 innings – in 2021 before an elbow injury shut him down in July.
DeGrom and Scherzer have both been tough on the Phillies. DeGrom is 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA, a 0.991 WHIP and 126 strikeouts and 27 walks in 114 innings over 19 career starts against the Phils.
Scherzer is 14-4 with 2.50 ERA in 25 career starts against the Phillies. In 158 2/3 innings, he has registered 201 strikeouts and walked just 39. His career WHIP against the Phillies is 0.989. Scherzer faced the Phillies three times (June 4, June 22, July 29) in 2021 and out-pitched Zack Wheeler in all three starts.
While the Mets are dominating baseball headlines as the calendar gets set to turn to December, it must be pointed out that big wintertime additions do not guarantee success. The Mets learned that last season. They traded for superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor last winter then failed to make the postseason.
In addition, the fine print on Scherzer will show that he will turn 38 in July and missed a start last season with triceps soreness. DeGrom will turn 34 in June and has had the elbow issue.
But together, they have five Cy Young awards, four other top three finishes in the voting, and a pretty good history against the Phillies.