Scherzer smashes salary record in deal with Mets
By James Wagner
After the New York Mets’ billionaire owner, Steven A. Cohen, flexed some of his financial might over the weekend with three new additions, he made his splashiest move yet.
On Monday, the Mets and Max Scherzer, a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award, agreed to a record-setting deal that would pair him with a two-time winner of the Cy Young, Jacob deGrom, and that may usher in a new era for a franchise that has been disappointing in recent seasons.
Scherzer’s pact is worth $130 million over three years, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who were granted anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical examination. The average annual salary of $43.3 million will shatter the previous record set by Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees before the 2020 season.
At the time of his deal, Cole was 29. Scherzer, though, is 37.
Despite his age, Scherzer has maintained not only his mid-90s velocity but also his performance. With the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2021 season, he went 15-4 with a 2.46 earned run average and 236 strikeouts over 179 1/3 innings. In September, he became the 19th person to reach 3,000 career strikeouts.
His 0.864 walks and hits per inning pitched was the lowest mark in the majors, and he finished third in the NL’s Cy Young voting, behind the winner, Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Zack Wheeler of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Scherzer is one of the most accomplished active pitchers in the majors — and among the game’s highest-earning players of all time. Before his final season with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144 million contract extension. He bet on himself and a year later signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals. He proved worth it, winning his second and third Cy Young awards and helping lead the team to its first World Series title, in 2019.
After they fell out of contention this season, the Nationals traded Scherzer to Los Angeles based on his preference to be on the West Coast. But Scherzer wanted to go to a team that could win going forward and he saw an opportunity with the Mets, whose spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is only a 40-minute drive from where he and his family live in Jupiter. His deal with the Mets also calls for an opt-out after the second year of the contract and a full no-trade clause.
Scherzer will join a franchise that has not reached the playoffs since 2016 and went 77-85 in 2021. Intent on turning the Mets around, Cohen, the richest owner in baseball with a reported net worth of $14.6 billion, used his wallet to attract talented players. Since hiring Billy Eppler as the new general manager, the Mets have committed a combined $124.5 million to outfielder Starling Marte, outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar.