The surprising Texas Rangers are going all-in with Max Scherzer just when they need a big boost the most.
The AL West leaders acquired the three-time Cy Young Award winner from the New York Mets in a blockbuster trade announced Sunday, right about the time Texas placed ace Nathan Eovaldi on the 15-day injured list with a strained right forearm.
News of the agreement broke Saturday night while the Rangers were losing for the sixth time in eight games, trimming their lead over second-place Houston to one game.
Texas didn’t stop there, either. The team also landed left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery, right-handed reliever Chris Stratton and international bonus pool money from the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday for left-hander John King, minor league infielder Tommy Saggese and minor league right-hander T.K. Roby.
Texas manager Bruce Bochy said Scherzer will make his Rangers debut Thursday when he starts at home against the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s great. We’re pumped about it. We’re getting an experienced guy with a tremendous resume,” Bochy said before the Rangers tried to avoid a sweep in San Diego.
Bochy said the message to his players before Tuesday’s trade deadline is: “Hey, we mean business. We’re here to win. And it’s always a great message when a team does something like this.”
Rangers general manager Chris Young, a former big league pitcher, was excited as well.
“Obviously, Max’s pedigree is a future Hall of Fame pitcher and the winner that he is is a perfect fit for what we need right now,” Young said. “You can never have enough starting pitching and to add someone of Max’s caliber is a great addition to our club. We landed the player we feel like is going to help us get where we want to go this year.”
Texas has emerged from six consecutive losing seasons to lead the AL West all but one day in Bochy’s first season in charge. Bochy won three World Series championships from 2010-14 as manager of the San Francisco Giants.
While hoping his absence won’t go beyond 15 days, Eovaldi, an All-Star this season who won a World Series title with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, was happy to hear of the acquisition of Scherzer.
“Adding him not only to this rotation for this year but also for next year, is a huge pickup,” Eovaldi said. “He brings that experience. He’s accomplished everything. What he’s going to be able to do for the guys, the energy, and you see how he goes out there and competes on the mound, and then just that extra experience for the postseason as well.
“We’ve got more guys that have experienced it and been through it, and the more guys you have with everything that he’s been able to accomplish, the better it is for the whole rotation and the team itself,” Eovaldi added.
Eovaldi joins two other Rangers All-Stars on the IL, catcher Jonah Heim and shortstop Corey Seager.
The trade netted the Mets one of Texas’ top prospects in infielder Luisangel Acuña, the younger brother of Atlanta star Ronald Acuña Jr. New York said he will be optioned to Double-A Binghamton.
Scherzer waived his no-trade clause to complete the deal, and the Mets will send cash to Texas. The pitcher also agreed to opt in on the final year of his contract in 2024 at $43.3 million, according to reports that said the Mets were paying about $35 million of the remaining $58 million on the right-hander’s contract.
The 39-year-old Scherzer joins another former Mets ace in Texas: injured right-hander Jacob deGrom. However, the two-time Cy Young Award winner had Tommy John surgery last month that could sideline him through the end of next season.
Scherzer (9-4) was leading the Mets in wins but had his highest ERA (4.01) since 2011 with Detroit. The eight-time All-Star started Friday at home against Washington, allowing one run over seven innings in a 5-1 New York victory.
With 210 career wins, Scherzer is third among active pitchers behind Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
The Mets, one of baseball’s biggest disappointments, unloaded Scherzer just days after sending closer David Robertson to Miami for two minor leaguers Thursday night.
New York began the season with the highest payroll in baseball at a record $355 million but started Sunday 18 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and seven games back in the wild-card race with a string of teams to catch.
“We just couldn’t get the consistency clicking,” general manager Billy Eppler said.
The next question is what the Mets will do with Verlander, another three-time Cy Young Award winner signed through next season. There should be plenty of suitors for the 40-year-old right-hander, who earned his 250th career win Sunday against Washington.
The Rangers made the first notable move of this trading season by getting once-dominant closer Aroldis Chapman from Kansas City in June. Chapman has stayed in a setup role with Will Smith handling most of the closing duties.
Now, Texas has bolstered its rotation.
The 21-year-old Acuña was batting .315 with seven homers, 51 RBIs and an .830 OPS in 84 games with Double-A Frisco this season. He also had 25 doubles and was leading the Texas League in stolen bases (42) and runs (68).
Acuña was the third-ranked prospect in Texas’ farm system and No. 44 overall in the majors, according to MLB Pipeline.
Dixon reported from Texas.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.