The Nationals have signed free agent starter Max Scherzer to a reported 7 year, $180+ million contract, causing me to wonder the following after learning of the signing last evening:
So a team, Nationals, with more pitching than anyone, signs Scherzer, yet a team that needs an ace, Red Sox, aren't in the conversation?— Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams) January 19, 2015
That tweet was followed by this one:
That same team won their div by 17 games last year. 17 games. Yet THEY sign Scherzer? Boras is a genius.— Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams) January 19, 2015
It doesn't make sense to me why the Nationals would sign Scherzer when their division might be one of the worst in the game this season, with two teams, the Braves and the Phillies, in complete rebuild mode.
The signing gives the Nationals the best starting rotation in the game:
And, oh yeah, they also have Tanner Roark who won 15 games with a 2.85 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 3.84 xFIP and a 1.09 WHIP in 31 starts and just under 200 innings last season. The deal gives Nationals GM Mike Rizzo the flexibility to deal one of Doug Fister or Jordan Zimmermann for prospects that can help them down the road.
Whether Rizzo deals one of his starting pitchers is a story for another day, but every team has a need for starting pitching…..well, except the Nationals, so Rizzo can be patient. Also, you cannot predict when one of your own pitchers goes down with an arm injury.
Scherzer is coming off a season where he went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, a 1.18 WHIP and struck out more than a batter per inning. He has won 15 games or more in each of the last four seasons, has struck out more than a batter per inning in each of the last three seasons, and has tossed over 200 innings in each of the last two seasons.
He moves to the National League East, where he will pitch for the team that won the most games in the NL last season, pitching in the best rotation in the game, and in a division where two teams are rebuilding. They should now be the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series.
Does this signing push the Dodgers to deal for Cole Hamels now? Maybe, but I don't see that happening till mid-season, if at all.
I ranked Scherzer as my fifth ranked starting pitcher in my recent Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings, behind Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, and just ahead of Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke. This signing won't change my rankings at all, as he was already a top 5 starter, and I don't see a reason to drop any of the four starters ranked ahead of him down a notch, but Scherzer has the potential to move up in the rankings by midseason.
I see Scherzer putting up another season like 2014, with a sub-3.00 ERA and maybe a bump in his strikeout totals.