Ripple effects of Max Scherzer signing with Mets, including impact on the Javier Baez pursuit and payroll

Max Scherzer treated art with Dodgers orange streak in background 2021

Last week, after Steven Matz jilted Steve Cohen and his old team to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, the hysteria surrounding the Mets over what many claimed could be an inability to land players was at peak levels.

It was hilarious then and even more hilarious now, after the Mets spent the Thanksgiving weekend reeling in Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and — after a negotiation that came to a head late Sunday and Monday — Max Scherzer.

The Mets, with Scherzer now on board (that still doesn't seem real, but it sure is), have announced their presence with authority.

And while much of the focus will be on the 1-2 punch Scherzer will form atop the rotation with Jacob deGrom, and the absolute havoc the Mets could wreak if they reach the postseason in 2022, the Scherzer move will have lots of other ripple effects.

Here are some of the biggest ones…

What's next? And could Javier Baez still return?

With the signings of Escobar, Canha, Marte, and Scherzer (whose deal at roughly $43 million per season obliterated the previous record for highest average annual value), the Mets' payroll is about to soar to a height it's never been at (more on that below).

But that doesn't mean they're done — or even close to done — adding players this offseason.

Shortly after the deal was reached with Scherzer, SNY's Andy Martino reported that the Mets remain “pretty far apart” on the price Javier Baez is seeking but that a return should not be ruled out.

Sep 14, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets second baseman Javier Baez (23) follows through on a game tying solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning at Citi Field.

As far as a pursuit of Carlos Rodon, Martino suggested it could be unlikely.

Martino also noted that the trade market, and specifically potential deals with the rebuilding Oakland Athletics, could be something to keep an eye on later in the offseason, with the Mets potentially having major league pieces (such as J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, and/or Jeff McNeil) to dangle if they need more starting pitching.

What does this mean for Marcus Stroman?

Even before the Mets signed Scherzer, a reunion with Stroman appeared highly unlikely.

Now, in the wake of Scherzer signing and after Stroman recently liked one tweet alleging the Mets were racist and liked another tweet that referred to a reporter as an ethnic slur, it seems that the door is pretty firmly shut on a Stroman return.

Aug 17, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (0) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.

Stroman was the Mets' best pitcher in 2021 and the only member of the starting rotation who was reliable and stayed healthy for the whole season.

But despite the above and despite a glaring need in the rotation before landing Scherzer, the Mets had minimal interest in bringing him back.

While Stroman's value as a pitcher going forward can be debated, his actions over the last few days on Twitter cannot be. And those actions have been abhorrent.

The impact on the starting rotation

Entering the offseason, addressing the starting rotation was the Mets' most glaring need.

Then they lost Noah Syndergaard to the Los Angeles Angels and missed out on bringing Matz back.

But by following up those misses with the signing of Scherzer, the Mets have not only added the best possible available pitcher, but given themselves a safety blanket at the top of the rotation if deGrom has any health issues.

Assuming deGrom is healthy, he and Scherzer will be atop the rotation, with Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker behind them.

Jun 26, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field.

Prior to signing Scherzer, the Mets pursued Kevin Gausman (who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays) and Jon Gray (who landed with the Texas Rangers).

And given what the Mets have already done this offseason, the expectation should be that they'll add another pitcher to the rotation to add more depth to go along with Tylor Megill and David Peterson.

What it means for the payroll situation

I wrote before the offseason that because of a perfect storm that was brewing, the Mets would have to not only exceed the luxury tax this offseason but likely vault well past it.

And after the signing of Scherzer, the Mets' expected payroll for 2022 is around $266 million, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.

The $266 million figure includes all of New York's arbitration-eligible players and their expected salaries. And since the Mets have some trade candidates, there's a possibility that figure could change.

New York Mets left fielder Dominic Smith (2) reacts after hitting a grand slam home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning at Great American Ball Park.

But either way, the Mets are going to have the highest payroll in the history of the franchise and will likely have the highest payroll in the sport.

With the CBA set to expire on Dec. 1, it is not yet known what the luxury tax threshold will be in 2022 (it was $210 million in 2021), or how the related penalties for exceeding it will work.

But if the rules are similar to how things were under the old CBA, the Mets will want to get back under the threshold within three years to avoid the most major penalties and taxes.

Doing so won't be simple, but it should be doable with the contracts the Mets have coming off the books soon (including Robinson Cano's $20 million), and the likely influx of a bunch of their top prospects beginning in 2022.

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