Max Scherzer close to signing with New York Mets
It has been a wild weekend in baseball as teams and players alike prepare for a likely lockout to kick of a transaction freeze later this week, and Sunday in particular was a massive flurry of activity. And it was the last big deal of the day that was the biggest splash. According to reports, Max Scherzer is nearing a deal with the Mets. The terms are still unknown as of this writing late Sunday night, but the expectation is for the average annual value to exceed $40 million.
This is obviously a massive move as Scherzer was one of the top free agents on the board this winter and just generally one of the best pitchers in baseball. The future Hall of Famer is nearing the end of the road as he enters his age-37 season, but he was still great when he pitched in 2021, finishing the year with a 2.46 ERA over 30 starts. There were some injury issues towards the end of the year, and that along with the age provides some risk, but it’s also Max freakin’ Scherzer. The idea of him and Jacob deGrom in the same rotation is terrifying.
Why Red Sox fans should care: A lot of the top options in the rotation have come and gone already in this early portion of the winter, and Scherzer is just another example. That said, while he was absolutely someone the Red Sox should have targeted on a big-money, short-term deal, it always seemed like a pipe dream. It’s hard to know how much to read into this stuff, especially because it was indicated that Scherzer wanted to pitch on the west coast, but it’s also been said he wanted to stick in the National League. I would have been excited for him to land in Boston, but it just never seemed like a possibility so at least he’s in the NL.
Marcus Semien signs with Texas Rangers
Speaking of big names at positions of needs, before the Scherzer news came down the big deal of the day was out in Texas with the Rangers highlighting a big day by inking Marcus Semien to a seven-year deal. The contract is worth $175 million.
This is a great deal for the veteran infielder, who made a big bet on himself last winter by settling for a one-year deal and it paid off in a big way. Semien was an MVP candidate for much of the season with the Blue Jays and finished the year hitting .265/.334/.538 with great defense up the middle. It’s a bit surprising to see Texas make this kind of splash as they’ve been at the bottom of the league for the last few years. That said, it’s clear that they are ready to make a push up the standings and Semien is a big-time move in that direction. He should be right in the heart of that lineup at Opening Day.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Second base seems like the best place for the Red Sox to make a splash if one is gun shy about giving a big deal to a pitcher, and Semien was among the best players on the market. I believe enough in the talent to think this deal is just fine for Texas, but there is some risk here, especially given the number of years. Any long-term deal should come with the expectation that you’re going to get some lean years on the back end, but with Semien entering his age-31 season. I would have been fine with this deal, but there are still other options available. It is nice to have him out of the division, at least.
Kevin Gausman signs with Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto did lose out on one of their key bats from this past season, but they made up for it quickly by adding one of the top starters on the market to the fold in free agency. Shortly after the Semien news broke, it was reported that the Blue Jays were signing Kevin Gausman to a five-year deal worth $110 million.
This is another example of a prove-it deal working for the player, as Gausman accepted the qualifying offer last year to stay with the Giants and put up another big season. The righty finished the year pitching to a 2.81 ERA over 33 starts, backing up the strong showing in 2020. Now, Gausman heads back east and away from the pitchers’ paradise in San Francisco. The talent is there, though, and Toronto now adds him to a rotation that features that José Berríos and Hyun-Jin Ryu. They were already a threat heading into 2022, but this just solidifies that.
Why Red Sox fans should care: This one hurts a bit more to me than the Scherzer deal for a couple of reasons. For one thing, he landed in Boston’s division, so if the numbers carry over missing out on that production hurts doubly. But on top of that, it was attainable in a way Scherzer may not have been. Gausman was willing to come back east, and this price, while not small, is reasonable. There is enough room from his 2021 production for him to feel the move out of San Francisco and still be a good signing for that money.
Byron Buxton signs extension with Minnesota Twins
Most of the big moves from the day was with free agents joining news teams, but there was also a big move made in the AL Central with Byron Buxton staying in Minnesota. There had been some conversation this winter about whether or not he’d be traded or staying in Minnesota, and it looks like it’ll be the latter. The outfielder signed a seven-year deal worth $100 million to stay with the Twins.
This is a fascinating deal for a fascinating player. On the one hand, there are only a handful of players in all of baseball who can match Buxton in terms of true-talent. He is the total package, having put up a 169 wRC+ in 2021 to go with elite defense in center field. On the other hand, he just cannot stay healthy. He played in only 61 games this past season, and hasn’t played as many as 90 since 2017. Given the talent, it’s a worthy gamble for Minnesota, but there’s real risk here.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Even if Buxton was available in trade I don’t see the Red Sox having made this move, so to me the real impact is that the Yankees couldn’t. Center field is an area of need for them and this would have been a huge injection of talent in that roster.
Other notable moves
Those are all the moves we’ll write up for today, but there were other notable moves to mention.
- Corey Kluber signed a one-year deal worth $8 million plus incentives with the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Avisaíl García signed a four-year deal worth $53 million with the Miami Marlins.
- Jon Gray signed a four-year deal worth $56 million with the Texas Rangers.
- Michael Lorenzen signed a one-year deal worth $7 million with the Los Angeles Angels.