You can never count the New York Yankees out, whether it be the playoff hunt or the free agent market, until it's all over. Now the Max Scherzer sweepstakes are finally coming to an end, but it doesn't look like the Yankees will be surprising anyone with an 11th-hour contract. Scherzer has reportedly signed a seven-year deal with a team that turned out to be the Washington Nationals, while it was determined not to be the Yankees a long time ago.
Like with Jon Lester earlier in the offseason, despite statements saying they would be avoiding long-term contracts, many fans refused to count New York out of the Scherzer sweepstakes. Though nothing has been made official as of yet, it has been determined that the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, and Tigers are all out of the running. Any deal for the Cy Young winner is going to rival Justin Verlander's seven-year, $180 million contract and would also cost a draft pick on top of that. This would be a lot to give up for the Yankees, especially when they opted to distance themselves from Lester, who didn't require any draft compensation at all.
Scherzer to Washington means that James Shields is the last good free agent rotation option out there. The Yankees will undoubtedly pass on Shields, so they'll have to make due with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia, and Chris Capuano. This would seem like a pretty solid pitching staff if it weren't for Capuano being in there and Shane Greene and David Phelps being traded away. The Yankees could have used Max Scherzer, but they have a solid enough staff with just enough depth that they didn't absolutely need him.
If the Nats sign him, it's possible that they could end up trading one of their other starters to get some prospects and save money. Washington is apparently open to trading anyone, so the Yankees need to be in on everyone from Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Doug Fister. Gio Gonzalez might be too expensive to move, but Zimmermann has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, Strasburg has two more years of control, and Fister is one of the most underrated pitchers in the majors. Any of them would make a lot of sense for the Yankees, should the Nationals decide to sell off one of their arms to afford Scherzer.
Sources: Max Scherzer's deal is $210 million for seven year. Half is deferred: $105M from 2015-21, $105M from 2022-28. @Ken_Rosenthal first.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 19, 2015
Sources: Max Scherzer's deal includes a $50M signing bonus to be paid out over a portion of time. Structured that way for tax purposes.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 19, 2015