19 January 2015

Does adding Max Scherzer make the Nationals the team to beat?

(AP)
Tell me you saw this one coming: Max Scherzer coming to the nation's capital. As first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS late last night, Scherzer signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals worth $210 million (he will receive the money over 24 years). Scherzer, 30, was perhaps the top pitcher on the free agent market this offseason after coming off two straight consecutive which included winning the 2013 AL Cy Young. The Nats have been one of the top teams in the NL two of the past three years, will the addition of Scherzer make them the favorites to win it all?

As we all know, you can never have too much pitching in baseball and that adage certainly fits with this club. Their pitching staff before yesterday was Jordan Zimmerman-Stephen Strasburg-Doug Fister-Gio Gonzalez-Tanner Roark; all five are coming off of quality seasons and on its own would be considered to be one of the elite rotations in baseball. Bringing in an ace the caliber of a Scherzer only makes the pitching staff to be even better. In all likelihood Roark will be the odd man out of the rotation and we're talking about a guy that had a 2.85 ERA and a 5.1 WAR in almost 200 innings.

But now with the plethora of arms available to them has speculated that the franchise could now deal one of said arms in order to upgrade else. Much speculation has centered on Zimmerman, whom the team has been unable to sign for a long-term deal and whose contract runs out after this upcoming season, Strasburg, who has been hesitant to sign an extension himself and who will be a free agent after 2016, and Fister, who will be a free agent after this season as well. There is also thoughts that management will not be willing to fork out the cash now after this big Scherzer contract.

However, the Nats should keep all their guys and if it involves them having to fork out a little more cash, I think Washington owner Ted Lerner can afford to loosen his wallet a little more. The window is now for this club and by adding Scherzer, they should push all their chips to the center of the table and go all in. With such a loaded rotation as well as a quality lineup, they are the favorites to win the first championship in the history of the franchise. Worry about the money and the guys whose contracts will be up later as trading them for prospects does nothing to help them win now.

Even before adding Scherzer, the Nationals had one of the better rosters in baseball. But they have fallen short of expectations three straight years now and now is the time to finally get a title. Building such a stout rotation would only help the cause but keeping it together is important. The team will likely regret the Scherzer contract in a few years but if it helps brings the team a title, it will be worth it.

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