NEW YORK (AP) — Max Scherzer has shattered baseball’s record for highest average salary, agreeing Monday to a $130 million, three-year contract with the New York Mets, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical.
The $43.33 million average salary is 20% higher than the previous mark, the $36 million Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is averaging in his $324 million, nine-year contract with New York.
Scherzer would have the right to opt out after the 2023 season to become a free agent once again. Scherzer also receives a full no-trade provision, requiring his approval for any deals. The agreement also includes award bonuses.
Scherzer lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, about an hour’s drive from the Mets spring training complex in Port St. Lucie. He was planning to take a physical Monday that is needed for the deal to be completed.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, the 37-year-old right-hander was 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA last season for the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired him on July 30. He struck out 236 and walked 36 in 179 1/3 innings, averaging 94.4 mph with his fastball in the final season of a $210 million, seven-year contract that included $105 million in deferred money payable from 2022-28.
He is 190-97 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 major league seasons for Arizona (2008-09), Detroit (2010-14), Washington and the Dodgers. He has distinctive eyes, blue on the right, brown on the left, a condition known as Heterochromia Iridis.
A workhorse who helped the Nationals win the 2019 World Series title, Scherzer won the AL Cy Young in 2013 and consecutive NL Cy Youngs in 2016 and 2017. He finished third in this year’s voting behind Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler.
He has pitched a pair of no-hitters, in 2015 against Pittsburgh and at the Mets.
Scherzer gets $43,333,333 annually. The Mets deal will raise his career earnings to more than $370 million.
He joins a rotation headed by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who didn’t pitch after July 7 because of right forearm tightness. Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker also return under club control.
Noah Syndergaard, returning from Tommy John surgery, left for a $21 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Mets lost out on left-hander Steven Matz, whose $44 million, four-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals was to be finalized Monday.
New York also has pending deals with center fielder Starling Marte ($78 million for four years), outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar, all contingent on successful physicals.
The Mets had baseball’s third-highest payroll on Aug. 31 at $196 million, trailing the Dodgers ($261 million) and Yankees ($204 million), They could emerge as the top spender following their first full offseason under owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team in November 2020 from the Wilpon and Katz families in a deal that valued the Mets at a baseball-record $2.42 billion.
As baseball heads to a likely lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires Wednesday night, Scherzer is a member of the union’s eight-player executive subcommittee.
His agreement, like Cole’s, was negotiated by agent Scott Boras.