Rangers trade for Scherzer in surprise deal

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers acquired three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer in a blockbuster trade with the New York Mets on Saturday night, an all-in move for the surprise leaders in the AL West, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced.

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The Rangers added the 39-year-old Scherzer with another former Mets pitcher with Cy Young credentials, two-time winner Jacob deGrom, sidelined by Tommy John elbow surgery, possibly all the way through the end of next season.

According to multiple reports, the deal nets New York one of the top Texas prospects in infielder Luisangel Acuña, the younger brother of Atlanta star Ronald Acuña Jr.

As part of the deal, Scherzer agreed to opt in on the final year of his contract in 2024 at $43 million, according to reports that also said the Mets were paying about $35 million of the remaining $58 million on the right-hander’s contract.

The Mets, one of baseball’s biggest disappointments, unloaded Scherzer two days after sending closer David Robertson to Miami for two minor leaguers.

New York began the season with the highest payroll in baseball at $353 million but started the day 17 games behind Atlanta in the NL East and 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.

The next question is what the Mets will do with Justin Verlander, another three-time Cy Young winner signed through next season. There should be plenty of suitors for the 40-year-old right-hander.

Texas has emerged from six consecutive losing seasons to lead the AL West all but one day in three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy’s first season as manager.

The Rangers made the first notable move of this trading season by getting once-dominant closer Aroldis Chapman from Kansas City in June. Chapman has stayed in a setup role with Will Smith handling most of the closing duties.

Now Texas has bolstered the rotation knowing deGrom might be out until Scherzer’s contract expires at the end of next season.

The trade for Scherzer came on the same day the Rangers said they were again bumping back the next start for All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Bochy said Eovaldi had a sore elbow, but the club doesn’t think it’s serious.

The Rangers added deGrom in the offseason on a $185 million, five-year contract, knowing there was risk in signing the oft-injured right-hander.

He lasted just six starts — all Texas wins — before elbow issues sidelined deGrom for a month. It took multiple MRIs to determine the extent of the damage to his elbow, and the Tommy John procedure in June was the second of his career. The other was in rookie ball with the Mets in 2010.

“I think we need to improve as a starting rotation,” Bochy said before the Rangers’ game at San Diego on Saturday night, as reports of the trade were circulating. “I think that’s fair to say.”

Scherzer (9-4) was leading the Mets in victories but had his highest ERA (4.01) since 2011 with Detroit. The eight-time All-Star started Friday at home against Washington, allowing one run in seven innings in a 5-1 New York victory.

With 210 career victories, Scherzer is third among active pitchers behind Verlander and Kansas City’s Zack Greinke.