Mets' Updated Starting Rotation, Payroll After Record-Setting Max Scherzer Contract

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVNovember 29, 2021

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 17:  Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning of Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on October 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The New York Mets significantly upgraded their rotation with the reported signing of Max Scherzer, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal will reportedly cost the Mets $130 million over three years, which would create a huge jump in payroll. The average annual salary of $43.3 million, a new MLB record, would put New York at an estimated $199.2 million going into 2022, per Spotrac

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Estimated current opening day payrolls, per <a href="https://twitter.com/baseballpro?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@baseballpro</a>:<br><br>Seattle Mariners: $57 million<br>Cleveland Guardians: $46.7 million<br>Max Scherzer: $43.3 million<br>Pittsburgh Pirates: $40.2 million<br>Baltimore Orioles: $37 million

This would rank second in the majors in total payroll behind only the crosstown rival New York Yankees.  

The Mets were already fifth on this list before signing thanks to large investments in Francisco Lindor, Jacob deGrom and Robinson Cano.

On the plus side, the addition of Scherzer creates one of the most exciting rotations in the majors.

Mets Starting Rotation

1. Jacob deGrom

2. Max Scherzer

3. Taijuan Walker

4. Carlos Carrasco

5. Tylor Megill

If healthy, the top of this rotation can match up with any in baseball.

Even at 37 years old, Scherzer was elite last season with a career-low 2.46 ERA split between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was truly dominant after the midseason trade to Los Angeles, going 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts on his way to a third-place finish in the Cy Young voting.

This pairs with deGrom, who was on his way to his third Cy Young before an elbow injury ended his season in July. Through 15 starts, the 33-year-old had an incredible 1.08 ERA, 0.55 WHIP and 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings. 

If he can come close to replicating this production in 2022, opponents will struggle getting any runs against this top two.

Taijuan Walker represents a solid No. 3 after earning his first All-Star selection last season. Despite some second-half struggles, he still finished with a 4.47 ERA in 30 appearances with 146 strikeouts.

There are bigger question marks at the back of the rotation with the Nos. 4 and 5 spots up for grabs.

Carlos Carrasco went just 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA in his first season with the Mets, ending the year on the injured list with an elbow injury. The 34-year-old produced a 3.77 ERA across 11 seasons with Cleveland, including a 2.91 mark in 2020. The Mets will clearly prefer the earlier version, but it remains to be seen if he can regain his form.

The final spot could come down to a spring training battle between Tylor Megill and David Peterson, two homegrown talents who have shown flashes of solid play. Megill performed better in 2021, but Peterson's production as a rookie in 2020 gives him a chance to succeed if he can stay healthy.

Trevor Williams could also compete for the fifth spot, although depth is clearly an issue for the team if no other additions come before the start of the season.