Max Scherzer might have just made the Washington Nationals an immediate favorite to make the World Series next year. Max Scherzer also became just the latest talented starting pitcher to become filthy stinking rich, thanks to a seven year deal worth more than $180 million. The signing of the former Detroit Tigers’ ace means that the NL has gained yet another top of the line starting pitcher, and sees the AL pitching depth get depleted yet again.
As ESPN reports, Max Scherzer joins Jon Lester in the National League after spending last season on American League pennant contenders. Not coincidentally, neither pitcher’s team actually made the World Series. It certainly isn’t a given that the Nationals are going to win a title either, but they certainly took a big step closer. The Nationals were actually likely considered a World Series favorite even before they added Max Scherzer to a rotation that will give the Dodgers a run for their money as the best starting pitching staff.
As Forbes points out, the massive contract handed over to Max Scherzer might have actually been a bit of a waste of money for the Nats. Before the free agent acquisition, Washington already had a rotation that included Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark. Roark was the weakest of the pitchers in that group.
Despite indeed being the weakest link, Roark was worth five wins (five bWAR). Max Scherzer was worth six wins (six bWAR). That means that over the course of the season, the Nationals just spent more than $180 million on one victory. Of course, the front office will likely tell you they believe that Max Scherzer will actually be worth quite a bit more in 2015, especially in the postseason.
It would seem as though the team has a point about Max Scherzer. Tanner Roark is a very nice number five starter, but he certainly hasn’t come close to winning the Cy Young award. It also stands to reason that inserting the ace into the rotation will move other pitchers down a spot and that could mean better matchups over the course of the season. There is also something to be said for the likelihood of the two pitchers repeating their performances from a year ago.
The former Tigers hurler is far more likely to match his outings from 2014 than it is for Roark. It seems the issue of “what could be” this year and for the next seven makes the contract they gave to Max Scherzer well worth the money.