The collective bargaining agreement between the Major League Baseball players and owners expires Wednesday night, and there is going to be a lockout, guaranteed. That would shut down the Hot Stove League. Thus, we could see a flurry of moves before then. The New York Mets have made a big splash in agreeing to terms with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on Monday. The SportsLine Projection Model forecasts Scherzer to improve New York's win total for the 2022 season by 2.3 victories and the team's playoff chances improve nearly 10 percent.
It's perhaps a little dangerous giving a 37-year-old like Scherzer a deal worth north of $40 million per season, but the right-hander and future Hall of Famer will sign a three-year, $130 million contract (that would be an MLB record for average annual value) and form a potential lethal 1-2 punch atop the two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, who was off to an historic start to the 2021 season before going down with injury.
Scherzer finished third for the 2021 NL Cy Young, Scherzer's eighth career season with a Top 5 Cy Young finish, tied for fourth all-time. Roger Clemens holds the record with 10. Scherzer hasn't finished outside the Top 5 in voting since 2012.
Last season combined with the Nationals and Dodgers, Scherzer was 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA and 236 strikeouts. He was 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 11 starts for the Dodgers after coming over in trade. His 2.46 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 2021 were the lowest of his 14-year career, and his 28.9 K-BB% (strikeout rate minus walk rate) was his second highest after 2019 (30.3%).
Scherzer ranks 18th all-time with 3,020 strikeouts and is the strikeout leader amongst active players. He has won more games with a lower ERA in his 30s than he did in his 20s. The Dodgers were expected to try and re-sign Scherzer and it was thought he wanted to remain on the West Coast, but money talks. In his career as a visiting pitcher at Citi Field, he's 10-2 with a 2.14 ERA.
Adding a starting pitcher was a priority for the Mets and new general manager Billy Eppler – who still has to hire a manager. Marcus Stroman is a free agent who will not be re-signed and Noah Syndergaard signed with the Angels in free agency. Now, the rotation looks to be deGrom, Scherzer, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Williams.
The SportsLine Projection Model (see below) now has the Mets winning 84.7 games with a 13.9 percent chance of winning the NL East and a 31.6 percent shot at the playoffs.
The Mets have bolstered their lineup this offseason with the additions of outfielders Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar (he'll probably play in the infield) and Mark Canha. When the Scherzer deal is completed, the Mets' 2022 payroll will project around a whopping $265 million, which will surely lead the majors. The Dodgers' payroll, which was first last season, will shrink with Scherzer and free-agent shortstop Corey Seager coming off it.
If the regular season starts on time, which is no sure thing, the Mets open at home March 31 against Scherzer's former Nationals team. Presumably, he would pitch the second game April 2. Caesars Sportsbook lists the Mets at +1400 to win the World Series and +700 for the NL pennant. Win totals won't be released for several weeks.
|Initial '22 Outlook||82.4||50.90%||9.40%||22.10%||1.10%||0.50%|
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