Reports say Max Scherzer, Nationals agree to 7-year contract
WASHINGTON (AP) Sure seems as if Max Scherzer and his wife now will be able to afford to buy themselves at least one of those nonstick baking sheets they were hoping to receive as a wedding gift.
Or even a few million of `em.
The 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner will become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in major league history after agreeing to a $210 million, seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals that includes a record $50 million signing bonus.
A person familiar with the negotiations outlined the terms to The Associated Press on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn't been announced. It creates a formidable rotation for the Nationals - who could try to boost the rest of their roster by trading one of their other starters.
Washington is now the 4-1 favorite to win the World Series, down from 6-1 odds when the offseason started.
Scherzer's signing bonus tops the previous high of $30 million for any player, given by the Cubs to pitcher Jon Lester this offseason. Scherzer plans to establish residency in Florida, which would shield his signing bonus from D.C. income tax, the person familiar with the negotiations said.
The person said the pitcher is scheduled to take a physical Tuesday, one of the steps needed for the deal to be finalized.
Scherzer, who spent the past five seasons with the Detroit Tigers before becoming a free agent, will receive the money from the Nationals spread out over 14 years, which lowers its present-day value.
Still, Scherzer did quite well for himself. Indeed, he and his bride - they were married in November 2013 - won't have to depend on their friends to finish filling the requests on their bridal registry at Crate & Barrel, including the pair of $19.95 baking sheets that no one gave them.
The 30-year-old right-hander's contract is the second-largest for a pitcher, behind only Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw's $215 million, seven-year deal that runs from 2014-20. The previous high for a righty was the $180 million, seven-year agreement from 2013-19 signed by Justin Verlander, another Cy Young Award winner for the Tigers.
Scherzer turned down an offer from Detroit last March that would have paid him $144 million from 2015-20, an average of $24 million per year.
The Nationals will lose what would have been the 27th pick in June's amateur draft, while the Tigers will gain an extra pick after the first round.
All in all, for the Nationals, it's a surprising move to upgrade an already imposing rotation after a relatively quiet offseason for the NL East champions.
Scherzer was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 2014, a year after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and being voted the best pitcher in the American League. He now joins a club whose starting staff in 2014 included Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister - Scherzer's former teammate with the Tigers - Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark.
That group already was considered among the best - if not the best - rotation in the majors. The question now is what move could come next for the Nationals, who might pursue a trade.
Zimmermann went 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 199 2-3 innings in 2014, and he threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history on the last day of the regular season. But he can enter free agency after next season.
Last season, Strasburg was 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 215 innings; Fister was 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA; Gonzalez went 10-10 with a 3.57 ERA, and Roark went 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 198 2-3 innings.
Gonzalez, third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2012, is the only left-hander in the bunch.
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.
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