It’s not mad money for “Mad Max.”
While Max Scherzer’s track record as one of MLB’s best and most dominant starting pitchers should be enough to attract teams, the way his contract is structured could be a bit of a sweetener in any deal.
Scherzer’s deal — a seven-year, $210 million pact he signed before the 2015 season — dictates that he earns $15 million of his $50 million signing bonus this year. Half of that money has been already paid, with the other half due in September.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the $7.5 million check that comes due in September will be paid by the Nationals, meaning the team that will potentially acquire Scherzer won’t have to pay him a dime the remainder of the 2021 season.
In fact, the acquiring team would only have to pay a third of the remainder of his $35 million salary for the 2021 season, and that money is entirely deferred to 2028.
An acquiring team wouldn’t be completely off the hook, though: Scherzer would count against the luxury tax threshold for this season, which will count for about $12 million. That number is based on the average annual value of his deal.
The three-time Cy Young winner is a free agent after the year, and at age 37 chances might be wearing thin to win a second championship ring.
Scherzer is a potential trade target as the deadline approaches, with the veteran starter reportedly preferring the West Coast in any deal, which could limit his market and make things more interesting in the coming days. Several of the NL West teams — the Dodgers, Padres and Giants — could all use Scherzer in a fight for the division.
The business of baseball is weird, but sometimes it works out well for teams wanting to win a title.