Max Scherzer is on his way out of the New York Mets, barring a massive turnaround, less than 24 hours after he said he was reconsidering his future with the team.
The Mets have agreed to a trade with the Texas Rangers that will send the three-time Cy Young winner to the AL West, according to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman and Athletics’ Ken Rosenthal. The trade required Scherzer’s approval because of his no-trade clause, which he will waive, according to SNY’s Andy Martinobut there are reportedly still some financial hurdles to clear before the deal goes through, as well as the usual medical clearances.
Scherzer is currently in the second season of a three-year, $130 million contract he signed with the Mets after the 2021 season. That deal included a full no-trade clause, giving Scherzer final say over where he was headed if the Mets wanted to trade him. He also has an opt-out after this season, making this trade a potential two-month rental.
The Mets, currently 49-54 and 6.5 games out of a wild-card spot, had already signaled they would sell at the trade deadline when they sent closer David Robertson to the Miami Marlins on Thursday in exchange for a pair of prospects , infielder Marco Vargas and catcher Ronald Hernandez. It was the deal that irked Scherzer enough to tell reporters he wanted a conversation with the Mets’ front office after Friday’s game.
“I have to have a conversation with the front office … about everything,” Scherzer said. “That’s the most I’ll say. You’ve got to talk to the brass. You’ve got to understand what they see, what they want to do. That’s the best I can tell you.
“I told you I wasn’t going to comment on this until (owner) Steve (Cohen decided) to sell. We traded Robertson. Now we have to have a conversation. I haven’t had that conversation yet, and I will.”
We now have a pretty good idea of how that conversation went.
With Robertson traded and Scherzer on the way out, the Mets have little reason to hold on to their other movable assets, especially starting pitcher Justin Verlander. They will be a team to watch in the few days left before the trade deadline on Tuesday.
Rangers make aggressive move with Max Scherzer, but is it smart?
Rangers general manager Chris Young isn’t shy about his devotion to proven elite pitching. This deal would put Scherzer back into an ambitious rotation that had planned to rely on Jacob deGrom.
The big question on the Rangers’ side is whether Scherzer, the future Hall of Famer who turned 39 on Thursday, is still the power-booster he was as late as 2021. After career-high goals, he’s in the midst of his worst season since 2011 , with a 103 ERA+ (meaning he’s only been 3% better than league average based on the park-adjusted metrics).
His strikeout rate is also down, but the most concerning sign is a ballooning vulnerability to home runs. Homers used to be one of the only ways to score on Scherzer, but this season he’s allowed a whopping 1.92 per nine innings, third-worst among qualified starters. Notably, the starter with the worst HR/9 — veteran Lance Lynn — was also just traded.
Scherzer’s struggles and inconsistencies in the middle innings, in particular, have raised eyebrows in the first year of the pitch timer. On a Mets team that has struggled to fill innings, Scherzer has nonetheless gone better than average at 5.7 innings per start. A deeper team could envision boosting his numbers simply by cutting back on his workload.
This marks Scherzer’s second high-stakes midseason move in three years. When the Washington Nationals tore down their World Series-winning core in 2019, Scherzer accepted a deal with the Dodgers and then went on to go 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA the rest of the season before battling fatigue on a crucial time in the postseason.
The Rangers would likely have to find a way to max him out with restraint that has never before been required of the famed competitive hurler. But they are a team whose trade deadline could make a huge difference. They are just two games behind the Houston Astros for the AL West lead, which would guarantee the winner a bye to the ALDS. With deGrom out for the season with an injury and new ace Nathan Eovaldi carrying a heavy workload, more reliable pitching may be needed to keep the Astros away.
Rumors had swirled about Scherzer and Verlander over the past week as the Mets’ chances for contention dwindled and GM Billy Eppler began selling, most notably sending closer David Robertson to the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
Scherzer appeared to tighten the direction Friday in postgame comments, even though the Mets sat well outside of a postseason spot.
As other potential sellers, such as the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres, have held off on moves, the Mets have decidedly jumped into sale mode to take advantage of a thin market for pitching help. Outfielders Mark Canha and Tommy Pham are also candidates to join new teams.