The Washington Nationals held a press conference this afternoon in a snowy Nationals Park to introduce 2013 Cy Young Award winner and two-time MLB All-Star starter Max Scherzer to the nation's capital.
The Nationals' deal with the 30-year-old right-hander, reportedly a 7-year/$210M contract, was initially reported this past Sunday, but it was only made official today in the leadup to this afternoon's introduction.
Coming off a +5.6 fWAR season in 2014, in which he was (18-5) in 33 starts for the Tigers, with a 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 63 walks (2.57 BB/9) and 252 Ks (10.29 K/9) in 220 ⅓ IP, Scherzer hit free agency and found the long-term deal he and his agent, Scott Boras, were looking for in D.C. after he turned down what was reportedly a 6-year/$144M offer from Detroit last March.
At 1500 South Capitol Street SE today, in the media room at Nationals Park, the local and national press gathered to see Scherzer don his Nationals jersey [no.31] and talk to reporters about his new deal and his new team.
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo, manager Matt Wiliams and Scherzer's agent were all in attendance. Rizzo spoke first.
"It's a big day here at Nats Park," the Nationals' General Manager began.
"It is my extreme pleasure to introduce to the Washington, D.C. community, one of the finest right-handed pitchers in all of baseball and a fine gentlemen in his own right, Max Scherzer. These opportunities don't come up every day with players of this caliber and with an ownership group with the willingness to put themselves out there and acquire a player of this ilk."
"We couldn't be happier to have Max in the fold," Rizzo said.
After putting his new jersey on for the first time, Scherzer fielded questions from reporters.
Asked what led him to sign with the Nationals, Scherzer said it was simple.
"It's pretty easy and it's one [reason]: Winning. I think this team is capable of winning and winning a lot, so when you look at the near-term and long-term, this is an organization you want to be a part of."
Scherzer and Rizzo have now been reunited in Washington. Rizzo was the scouting director in Arizona when the D-Backs drafted Scherzer 11th overall in the first round of the 2006 Draft.
Scherzer was asked about the role Rizzo played in bringing him to the Nationals.
"Mike has been an architect here," he said, "of creating a team that has been at the bottom and is now creating a team that is poised to be at the top."
"And that's something as a player, looking from afar, something I was able to see," Scherzer explained. "To be able to see the run of success. So, obviously, when the Nationals started knocking on your door, this is a team that you want to be a part of. And you start having conversations with the Lerner family and understand their commitment to excellence and their commitment to winning, that lines up right with what I want do. I want to win and that's why I'm here."
"Whenever you can acquire a player of Max Scherzer's ability-level, character and toughness on the mound, those opportunities are few and far between," Rizzo said when asked about adding to an already-strong rotation.
"We saw a player that we were extremely interested in. He fits all the criteria that we're looking for in a Washington Nationals-type of player. He's good between the lines. He's a tough guy. He gets after it, he takes the ball, he attacks hitters and then in the clubhouse, a magnificent teammate.
"In the community, does nothing but impress everybody he touches and he's a guy that, you can't ask for more. He's the type of guy we're looking for and he's the guy that we went after very aggressively and we strengthened a strength and, who wouldn't want Max Scherzer on their club?"
Scherzer was asked another good question later in the press conference.
What did he think of the numbers on the deal when he heard the Nationals' offer?
"It was jaw-dropping," Scherzer said. "You just can't even fathom it sometimes. You work so hard to put yourself in this position. For me, like I said, it's all about winning. I don't play this game for money, but yet, at the same time, when you have an offer like that, it just makes you go, 'Wow!' So, I'm very fortunate to be in this position, very fortunate that they wanted to commit that type of dollar amount to me."
More info from the press conference to come...