C.J. Nitkowski: ‘Didn’t Think Scherzer Would Get 200 Million’

Top free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer has signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals. The deal, which includes a record $50 million signing bonus, is reportedly worth $210 million, with half of it being deferred. Scherzer, 30, will reportedly receive $15 million annually for 14 years.

“I didn’t think he was going to get ($200 million),” CBS Eye on Baseball analyst C.J. Nitkowski said on Tiki and Tierney. “And if you really look at the contract – at least what we’re hearing – it’s going to be over 14 years. They’re going to pay it out at $15 million a year. So even in present-day dollars, it’s not $200 million. I’ve seen some estimations – and this is kind of getting out of my strength here – but the real value would be about $185 (million or) $190 (million). Baseball has to decide how they’re going to look at that (and how they’re going to) judge it because it’s spread out over 14 years. So I think that’s how you get to that number. I don’t think he gets it if they’re paying it in seven years straight. I think that’s what makes the difference, and I think that’s how he ultimately ends up getting there.

“But I didn’t think he was going to get there,” Nitkowski continued. “I thought it was risky to turn down the offer he got in spring training (last year) from the Tigers (six years, $144 million). He bet on himself, which takes some you-know-what to be able to do that, and he ended up winning in doing that. That shows the kind of confidence you want from your guy. There are a lot of other soon-to-be free-agent pitchers that are really enjoying seeing this news today.”

Scherzer is 91-50 with a career 3.58 ERA in seven seasons with Arizona and Detroit. He went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2013, winning the AL Cy Young Award, and last year went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA.

Scherzer highlights a Nationals starting rotation that includes Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez.

While Scherzer bet on himself – and won – it certainly helped having mega-agent Scott Boras in his corner. Boras, who represents some of the most high-profile stars in the game, has a track record of negotiating directly with owners.

Do you know how rare that is?

“Really rare,” Nitkowski said. “I think it’s tough to get to that point. He has a nice in with a handful of owners. Mike Illitch is one of them in Detroit. He had a nice thing going with the Texas Rangers for a while and now he has it with the Washington Nationals. What he does really well is not only sell his player, which he does extremely well, but he sells the organization on what they would be without that player. He puts them in that spot. He knows exactly what to do. He knows the talk about the Washington Nationals (is how they) should have been a team that’s already won a World Series. They have the best roster. They haven’t been able to get it done. They’re missing that ‘it’ factor. Max Scherzer is that kind of guy. (Boras will) talk about the entire roster, how some guys are getting older and your window is closing and he preys on competitive owners – and does a really nice job of it. He gets the most money every time. He’s a great salesman. Scott Boras is just really, really good at what he does.”

The Nationals have won the AL East two of the last three years but have yet to advance to a World Series, much less win one. With Scherzer on board, however, Washington should flirt with 100 wins and be a dangerous team come playoff time.

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