Right-hander Max Scherzer agreed to a record-setting $130 million, three-year contract with the New York Mets and shortstop Corey Seager struck a $325 million, 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Monday as players and teams rushed to reach agreements before an expected lockout.
The pair are among among eight players who in recent days have agreed to contracts totalling $1.268 billion in guaranteed pay.
Both Scherzer and Seager are leaving the high-spending Los Angeles Dodgers for free agent riches elsewhere with teams that have aggressively added players before what likely will be Major League Baseball’s first work stoppage since 1995.
The five-year collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. EST Wednesday, and owners are expected to announce a signing freeze.
Scherzer’s $43.33 million average salary under Monday’s agreement is 20% higher than the previous mark, the $36 million Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is averaging in his $324 million, nine-year contract with New York.
Scherzer would have the right to opt out after the 2023 season to become a free agent once again. Scherzer also receives a full no-trade provision, requiring his approval for any deals. The agreement also includes award bonuses.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, the 37-year-old was 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA last season for the Washington Nationals and Dodgers, who acquired him on July 30. He struck out 236 and walked 36 in 179 1/3 innings, averaging 94.4 mph with his fastball in the final season of a $210 million, seven-year contract that included $105 million in deferred money payable from 2022-28.
New York also has pending deals with center fielder Starling Marte ($78 million for four years), outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar, all contingent on successful physicals. The Mets could emerge as the top spender following their first full offseason under owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team in November 2020 from the Wilpon and Katz families in a deal that valued the Mets at a baseball-record $2.42 billion.
Seager, like Scherzer, is represented by Scott Boras, who in the 2019-20 offseason negotiated more than $1.2 billion in contracts. Both deals are pending physicals, and details on each were provided by a person familiar with the agreement who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was final.
Seager was the World Series MVP in 2020 and a two-time All-Star in his seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .306 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs in 95 games this year, when he broke a finger on his right hand after getting hit by a pitch May 15 and missed 2 1/2 months.
Seager’s total dollars match Giancarlo Stanton for the fifth-highest in baseball behind Mike Trout ($426.5 million for 12 years), Mookie Betts ($365 million for 12 years), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($340 million for 14 years) and Bryce Harper ($330 million for 13 years).
Texas committed $500 million over two days to middle infielders, following an agreement Sunday on a $175 million, seven-year contract with Gold Glove second baseman Marcus Semien, also subject to a successful physical.
Other nine-figure deals in recent days:
— Wander Franco, a 20-year-old infielder with just 70 games in the major leagues, agreed to a $182 million, 11-year contract with Tampa Bay.
— Right-hander José Berríos, who could have become a free agent next offseason under the current rules, agreed with Toronto at $131 million over seven years.
— Free agent right-hander Kevin Gausman agreed to a $110 million, five-year contract with the Blue Jays, pending a successful physical.
— Free agent left-hander Robbie Ray, the AL Cy Young Award winner, agreed to a $115 million, five-year contract with Seattle, subject to a successful physical.
— Center fielder Byron Buxton, also one season shy of free agent eligibility, agreed to a $100 million, seven-year contract with Minnesota, a deal subject to a successful physical.