SAN DIEGO -- Chris Young's tenure as general manager of the Texas Rangers can be defined by one quote continuously used by the former big league pitcher: “You can never have too much starting pitching.”
Rangers get: RHP Max Scherzer, cash
Mets get: INF prospect Luisangel Acuña
The 39-year-old Scherzer, who waived his no-trade clause, is in the final guaranteed year of a two-year, $86.67 million deal. He had a 2024 player option for $43.33 million, but a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the right-hander has exercised that option. Earlier on Saturday, reports suggested the option had been a sticking point as the deal neared completion.
The Mets are paying all but $22.5 million of the salary as a part of the deal, a source told Feinsand, meaning New York will cover a total of $35 million through the end of 2024.
Scherzer will join the club in Arlington on Monday and is tentatively scheduled to make his debut on Thursday against the White Sox.
“Max's pedigree is of a future Hall of Fame pitcher,” Young said. “The winner that he is, is a perfect fit for what we need right now. I’ve always said that you can never have enough starting pitching. And to add somebody of Max's caliber is just a great addition to our club. We landed the player that we felt like is going to help us get where we want to go this year.”
The Rangers are essentially replacing one former Mets ace with another, as Jacob deGrom, the $185 million prize of Texas' active offseason, underwent season-ending elbow surgery in June.
Scherzer had one of his best starts of the season on Friday night, holding the Nats to one run over seven innings with seven strikeouts, but he has been uneven for most of the year, posting a 4.01 ERA with 121 strikeouts over 107 2/3 innings. He has been especially susceptible to the long ball, allowing a career-high 1.9 home runs per nine innings.
Even with the uncharacteristic struggles for Scherzer, he is an upgrade in the Rangers’ rotation.
Nathan Eovaldi has thrived in deGrom’s absence with a 2.69 ERA in 19 starts this season, but he landed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday with a right forearm strain. Dane Dunning (3.28 ERA) and Jon Gray (3.66) have been serviceable behind him, but both Andrew Heaney and Martín Pérez have ERAs well over 4.50 at the back end of the rotation.
The rotation entered Sunday with a 3.88 ERA, tied for fifth in MLB, but the group has struggled to a 4.60 ERA since June 1.
In Scherzer, the Rangers are acquiring one of the greatest pitchers in Major League history, a famously fierce competitor with extensive October experience. He owns a 3.58 ERA with 164 strikeouts over 133 1/3 innings in the postseason, including posting a 2.40 ERA in the 2019 playoffs, when he helped lead the Nats to a World Series title.
The eight-time All-Star has thrown two no-hitters and ranks 12th on the all-time strikeouts list with 3,314 punchouts over his 16-year career. He is one of six players to win Cy Youngs in both leagues (with the Tigers in 2013 and the Nats in 2016 and '17). Scherzer's pitching coach for both of those Cy Young seasons in Washington was current Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Young said discussions about Scherzer began before he spoke to the media on Friday.
Texas entered Sunday in first place in the AL West, one game above the Astros, as the club attempts to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016. The Mets sit at 50-55.
“We're pumped about it,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “We're getting an experienced guy with a tremendous résumé. We're very excited to have Max join us. … I think that message is sent from up above, ownership and the front office. What a great job C.Y. did. We mean business, and we're here to win.”