We used this idea last year. The idea is to go through some of the top free agents, use the contract FanGraphs suggests they will get and have a poll asking if we would like to sign him for that amount.
After agreeing on who the top 3 free agents are this year, Keith Law and Ben Clemens differ on who is number four. Clemens has Max Scherzer, Law has him at tenth. I think Ben has him too high, he is a 37-year-old pitcher?
But the Jays could use a starting pitcher, so let’s talk about Max here.
He’s had a terrific career. He’s pitched more than 170 every season since 2009 (not counting 2020). Career he has a 190-97 record with a 3.16 ERA. He seems to have improved as he’s gotten older. This year Max had a 2.46 ERA in 30 starts, with 36 walks and 236 strikeouts in 179.1 innings (he had 200 more strikeouts than walks).
He had a ‘dead arm’ issue in the playoffs, but then any team signing him will be giving him a thorough physical examination.
Keith Law said:
Scherzer will turn 38 in July 2022. There aren’t many pitchers who’ve been elite at that age or older; only three guys have had 7 WAR seasons in the integration era at age 38 or older, and I’m not sure any is a good comparable here. Randy Johnson had left-handedness in his favor. Phil Niekro threw a knuckleball. Roger Clemens … well, you know. Drop the bar to 6 WAR and you get two Dutch Leonard seasons from the 1940s and Bert Blyleven and his hammer curveball in 1989. Baseball-Reference shows 27 pitcher seasons worth 5 WAR or more where the pitcher was at least 38 years old, again using the integration era, just 12 of those coming this century. The odds are against Scherzer here, and that’s before we even think about how he didn’t quite seem the same at the end of 2021. I’d still take him at a premium salary, but only on a short-term deal of two years.
His final two regular season starts and two of his three postseason ones were mediocre, but that shouldn’t be the lasting impression of Scherzer’s 2021 season. In the final year of one of the sport’s most fully realized free agent mega-deals — $210 million for two Cy Youngs, two no-hitters, a championship, and 39.7 WAR — the 36-year-old Scherzer pitched like a man chasing more hardware, placing second in the NL in ERA (2.46), strikeouts (236), and K-BB% (28.8%), third in WAR (5.4), and fourth in FIP (2.96). His only blemish was a comparatively inflated 1.15 HR/9, but even that was 0.18 below the average starter.
Ben figures Scherzer will get a 2-year contract at $35 million a year. Two years would fit nicely into the Jays' plans.
In OOTP I never sign a pitcher in his mid-30s. But Scherzer is different than the average pitcher. A 34.1% strikeout rate, matched with a 5.2% walk rate, pitchers who can do that are rare.
Should the Jays sign Max Scherzer if the price is 2 years at $35 per year?
This poll is closed
Probably, but I’m not enthusiastic about it
Probably not, but I wouldn’t hate it
No, absolutely not