WASHINGTON – Late on the night of Sunday, Jan. 15, 2015, the Washington Nationals shocked the baseball world.
A franchise steeped in starting pitching only added to that embarrassment of riches – by signing Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal worth $210 million dollars.
The free-agent signing allowed Scherzer to make the move from the Detroit Tigers to Washington.
And the deal came in a winter that the Nationals were trying to decide what to do with starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond, both of whom were drafted and developed by the franchise (Desmond was drafted by Montreal).
As it turns out, Zimmermann and Desmond played that one year – 2015 – with Scherzer and then became free agents.
In a twist, Zimmermann ended his Major League career last year with the Tigers.
Scherzer more than earned his keep in his career in Washington, although some called his signing the worst of the off-season prior to the 2015 campaign.
“[T]he Nats not only added an enormous talent but they also gave themselves an incredible, almost bewildering assortment of variations to remain excellent in the future,” Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post wrote after the Nats landed the ace.
“Scherzer is an outstanding pitcher who has 492 strikeouts in his past 434 2/3 innings, and perhaps he’ll be the guy who pushes the Nationals to a place they haven’t gone before, the World Series,” Buster Olney of ESPN wrote after the signing.
“That is why Washington likely will line up Scherzer, Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez and go for it. Yep, Gio Gonzalez as a No. 5 starter,” Joel Sherman of The New York Post wrote.
The right-hander from St. Louis threw two no-hitters in the same season, 2015, while in Washington and captured the Cy Young Award in 2016 and 2017.
He was part of the staff that led the Nationals to their first World Series title, in 2019.
Scherzer, of course, has just signed another free agent deal – this time one for three years as he begins his career with the New York Mets in 2022.
His tenure with the Nationals ended in late July when he was dealt, along with shortstop Trea Turner, to the Los Angeles Dodgers.