Chances are, Max Scherzer was taking the biggest contract offered to him in free agency. He’s entering his age-37 season and one could assume it was the last possible chance he had at securing a sizable multi-year deal.
And he did just that when he accepted a three-year, $130 million offer from Steve Cohen and the New York Mets. You’d almost have to be stupid not to accept that. But we know Scherzer values winning, which is something the Los Angeles Dodgers have offered better than just about every other team in MLB over the last 10 years.
So how could the front office not have convinced Scherzer he’d remain with a perennial powerhouse and offer him nine figures (or an insanely high AAV on a two-year contract)? You can’t tell us that’s not possible since he was willing to go to a laughingstock franchise for a few extra million.
Perhaps we have our answer from Scherzer’s recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, where he clarified his comments about the Dodgers handling his workload down the stretch but refused to talk about their efforts to retain him in free agency.
Did the Dodgers screw up their chance to re-sign Max Scherzer?
Here’s what Scherzer told Jorge Castillo of the LA Times last week:
"“That was a heavy workload for me in 2019, but I was able to do it. And so as the playoffs started, after the wild-card game, that’s when I was talking Doc about, ‘Hey, look I have experience doing this. I understand how this postseason works. If I do get a relief appearance, you can use me out of the ‘pen’ …“For Dodger fans to be upset with me, for me to get dead arm like that, hey, that’s fair game. Look, you play with L.A., you’re here to win the World Series. I got that. I was OK with that and for fans to be upset for my dead arm, that’s fair. I can live with that.“I still would’ve gone back and had the same conversations with Dave. Going back I don’t have regrets saying, ‘Hey, let’s do the 2019 playoff run.’ Because the 2019 playoff run worked for the Nationals and we were able to get a World Series ring out of it and that’s what we were playing for with the Dodgers as well.”"
Scherzer talked about how he was limited down the stretch when the Dodgers opted to pitch him, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías every sixth day on a few occasions. On top of that, his pitch counts weren’t all that intensive. In his 11 regular season starts with Los Angeles, Scherzer only eclipsed the century mark five times and only went above 104 once. Judging by that, did the front office believe that preserving him for a postseason run was better than using him to the best of his abilities and rolling the dice while Mad Max was hot?
We’re not formulating any conspiracy theories when we say the Dodgers front office loves to have things their way (largely by scripting games), especially with how the pitchers are used. Dodgers starters have thrown SIX complete games since the start of the 2017 season. Scherzer had somewhat of a chance at four complete games with LA and was taken out every time in either the seventh or eighth inning.
Then, when the postseason rolled around, he was asked to be used more extensively and … he wasn’t. He was pulled from the Wild Card Game after 4.1 innings (though his pitch count was high) and then struggled in his NLCS start (also only 4.1 innings), but it’s clear he believes the limitations (if we can call them that) placed on him down the stretch affected what he could do when the games mattered the most.
Throw in a reported insulting two-year, $72 million contract offer, and there you have it. Why would he return if the organizational philosophy and money weren’t there?