We’re counting down the Top 10 New York sports stories of 2021. Here is No. 2…
Toward the end of November, a few days after teams began scooping up free agents with the lockout looming, Mets fans were losing their collective minds because Steven Matz jilted the Mets for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Would anyone want to play for the Mets and owner Steve Cohen? The concern looks even funnier in retrospect, after the Mets signed — in order — Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer (who inked a three-year deal worth $130 million).
While the Mets’ free agent frenzy led to them snagging four players in about a week, it was the signing of Scherzer that — understandably — caused an earthquake.
In addition to Scherzer, the Mets had been interested in signing other free agent pitchers, including Kevin Gausman and Jon Gray.
And when both Gausman and Gray came off the board while the Mets were still negotiating with Scherzer, tensions were high.
But the Mets separated themselves in the Scherzer sweepstakes from interested teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers by offering an MLB record for average annual value.
Combine the above with the Mets’ personal approach when recruiting Scherzer and the fact that he was never actually hesitant about playing in New York (as he explained in his introductory news conference), and the result is Scherzer atop the rotation with Jacob deGrom.
With Scherzer on board, the Mets have announced themselves as a free agent destination. And if deGrom is healthy, New York’s 1-2 punch will be a sight to see.