The Washington Nationals didn’t invent the deferred contract but they’ve embraced it like it’s their own. New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer is still on their books this year and for several more.
When Scherzer takes the hill versus the Nationals for his first start for the Mets, he’ll be getting paid by both teams. It has happened before. It just hasn’t happened quite like this.
How much are the Nationals paying Mets pitcher Max Scherzer in 2022?
Scherzer’s 2022 deferred salary is $15 million. Let’s say we get a good 30 starts from him in 2022. Carry the one. That’s about $500K per start. Scherzer will likely match up against the Nationals for more than just this one start. By the end of the year, the Nationals could have paid him around $2 million to face off against them.
I know Nationals fans probably don’t care. They got their championship. They’ll take on Bobby Bonilla’s contract if they had to in order to look at the banner from a few years ago. It’s not their money anyway.
Scherzer’s hefty payday from the Nationals this year is so high that it would rank fifth or sixth on the Mets payroll depending on whether you look at base salary or AAV. Scherzer’s base salary with the Mets plus the contracts for Francisco Lindor, Jacob deGrom, and Robinson Cano are all higher. Starling Marte’s base salary of $14.5 million this year is slightly lower but his AAV is higher. Measure this however you will.
Meanwhile, on the Nationals, only Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Juan Soto have higher base salaries. Nelson Cruz is owed $12 million this year but the mutual option for 2023 pushes his luxury tax hit into a match with Scherzer at $15 million.
Mets fans are going to enjoy watching Scherzer get paid by the Nationals to beat the Nationals all year long. Fans in D.C. probably won’t care and ownership might not admit that they do.
But there’s something about it that won’t feel right for anyone in the Washington front office. Nobody enjoys it when their bully drinks milk spent with their lunch money. Championship or not, there’s a stinging feeling in the pockets like you forgot to cancel a subscription you no longer want.