Max Scherzer will become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in the major leagues after agreeing to a $210 million, seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals that includes a record $50 million signing bonus.
Scherzer, the 2013 A.L. Cy Young Award winner for the Detroit Tigers, will receive the money over 14 years, which will lower its present-day value.
The 30-year-old’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, who played for Detroit the past five seasons before becoming a free agent, turned down an offer from the Tigers last March that would have paid him $144 million from 2015-20, an average of $24 million per year.
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, a person familiar with the negotiations said.
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 N.L. 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 could come next for the Nationals, who might pursue a trade.
Cubs acquire Fowler
Outfielder Dexter Fowler has been traded from the Houston Astros to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Luis Valbuena and right-hander Dan Straily.
Fowler hit .276 with eight homers and 35 RBIs last year in his only season with the Astros. Fowler, who has a .271 career average, asked last week for $10.8 million in arbitration and was offered $8.5 million.
Valbuena hit .249 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs and Straily was 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA last season.
Clearing the bases
Pitcher Erik Bedard has agreed to a minor league contract with the Dodgers and been invited to big-league training camp. … Free agent outfielder Nori Aoki has finalized his $4.7 million, one-year contract with the Giants.
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