Max Scherzer is back in the NL East.
The New York Mets have signed the veteran starter to a three-year deal worth $130 million with an opt out after 2023, according to multiple reports. His $43.3 million salary per year sets a new record for the highest average annual value of any contract in MLB history.
Scherzer, 37, placed third in NL Cy Young voting this year after splitting the season between the Nationals and Dodgers. The three-time Cy Young winner and eight-time All-Star finished out 2021 in the walk year of the $210 million contract he signed with Washington in 2015. The Nationals traded Scherzer to the Dodgers in July along with shortstop Trea Turner in a flurry of deadline moves that pushed the franchise’s sights to the future.
Returning to the free agent market for only the second time in his career, Scherzer scored big by eclipsing pitcher Gerrit Cole’s nine-year, $324 million deal ($36M AAV) with the Yankees for the MLB record in AAV. Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer became the first $40 million player last offseason, when he signed a unique three-year, $102 million deal that guaranteed him $85 million over the first two years with multiple options. Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the highest-paid position player at $35.5 million.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was first to report Monday the sides were close.
Scherzer joins a Mets rotation that will have a new look behind ace Jacob deGrom after both Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman hit free agency this offseason. Syndergaard declined the $18.4 million qualifying option from New York and signed a one-year, $21 million deal with the Angels while Stroman has sent (and deleted) tweets indicating the Mets don’t want him back.
New York tried hard for starter Steven Matz before he signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the Cardinals — much to the dismay of owner Steve Cohen. The team has still been active over the last week, inking outfielder Starling Marté (4 years, $78M), first baseman Mark Canha (2 years, $26.5M) and second baseman Eduardo Escobar (2 years, $20M) to free agent deals.
The Nationals and Mets open the 2022 season against each other with a three-game series beginning Opening Day on March 31.