Former Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer greeted the media for the first time as a member of the New York Mets on Wednesday, fielding questions alongside his agent Scott Boras on a Zoom call that lasted nearly 45 minutes.
When asked what it will be like to go up against the team that employed him for the last seven years, Scherzer expressed excitement over the challenge of facing Washington.
“It’s bizarre but when you change teams, it’s always bizarre,” Scherzer said. “It’s such a weird experience. I just got a first taste of it this season to be able to move to the Dodgers midseason. That was completely weird and first start is against the Astros. So, talk about crazy, I feel like my whole career I’ve dealt with crazy of changing teams.
“Obviously it would be insane to face the Nationals. That’s gonna be a wild experience for myself but it would be fun to compete against them. You look forward to those matchups and facing your friends. Baseball makes you do some crazy things sometimes. This is just another chapter in it.”
Scherzer, 37, inked a three-year, $130 million deal with the Mets this week after finishing out last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals traded Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner at the July 30 deadline to get a head start on rebuilding their franchise for the future. However, while the Nationals didn’t deal him to the Mets then, they couldn’t stop him from signing there as a free agent.
“It was more coming from the Nationals over the summer that they didn’t want to trade me in the division at that time and I understood it and I agreed with it at the time,” Scherzer said of his preference to be traded to a West Coast team.
“If I did get out of the division but stay in the NL, that was where I was at at the trade deadline. So that really at the time aligned me with teams that were out west. It came down to basically San Diego and the Dodgers, but free agency is a whole different animal. You have an offseason, a chance to reset, so for me all 30 teams were back in play. I was not dictating that I was going to be playing in one city or the next, I was waiting to see which teams were interested in signing me.”
It’s unclear what the Nationals’ level of interest was in Scherzer this offseason, but he chose to sign with the Mets as they make a push for a World Series title next year. Washington has signed just two free agents thus far this offseason for a total of $5 million, making their chances at competing for a playoff spot in 2022 minimal at best. New York has been among MLB’s most active teams during this free agency period, handing out contracts worth a combined $254 million.
That's not to say Scherzer may never pitch in a Nationals uniform again. The right-hander said he doesn't plan for his contract with the Mets to be the final one he signs in his career. Scherzer will have an opportunity to opt out of his deal after two years or return to free agency in 2024 at 40 years old.
Washington will likely get its first taste of Scherzer as an opponent during the opening series of the 2022 season, when the Nationals travel to Queens for a three-game set from March 31 to April 3.