Max Scherzer is heading to the Nationals to lead one of the best rotations in history. The seven year deal is worth about $210 million, but has not yet been confirmed. Scherzer now has the longest contract of any free agent that signed this offseason and the most expensive. Scherzer had a WAR of 6.0, and with his new average annual earning of $30 million this would make him earn about $5 million per WAR point, about average for a starting pitcher. Scherzer will lead a rotation that already has 2009 #1 pick Stephen Strasburg, as well as three of the most underrated pitchers in baseball in Jordan Zimmerman who's 4.9 WAR was 12th in the majors last season, Doug Fister who in nine games less accumulated only 0.1 win above replacement less than David Price and Jon Lester, and last, but not least Tanner Roark who is arguably the most underrated pitcher in baseball with a 5.1 WAR last season. The Nationals also have Gio Gonzalez who is now out of a spot in the rotation but is far to good to be a backup sixth starter, this means that a trade sending one of the Nats starters away is likely to occur sometime before spring training.
The Marlins are surprisingly still my pick for the NL East
With this unbelievable rotation it is hard to believe that I still predict the Marlins to win the NL East, as I did in mid December, but I still backup this bold prediction. The Marlins three outfielders will be payed only about 1/4 of what the Nationals pay their three starting outfielders, but last season their three accumulated almost twice as many Wins above replacement as the Nationals. The Marlins now have a better infield with the additions of Martin Prado, Dee Gordon, and Mike Morse, and while the Nationals have Anthony Rendon at third who had a WAR of 6.5, and Ian Desmond is a solid shortstop Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa combined for only o.3 wins above replacement player making the Nationals infield only minimally better than the Marlin's. The Marlins weakest point is their catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but Wilson Ramos is no better, his on base percentage was only .299 while Salty's was .320. Also I am a huge fan of players with the ability to work the count, which is why I made the stat pitches per out, and Wilson Ramos is just about the worst in the majors it takes only about an average of 4 and 1/4 pitches to get Ramos out. The Marlins also have a powerful rotation with Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez who are about as good the Nat's two best pitchers, Scherzer and Roark, and although the rest of the Nationals rotation is better than the Marlins it is not by much because of pitchers like Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, and Mat Latos who combined had a WAR of 5.5 last year. The final piece putting the Marlins in first in the division is their great young bullpen with closer Steve Cishek, and the overlooked threats posed by A.J. Ramos, and Ryan Morris who each earned a WAR of 2.0 last season while the Nationals only have one reliever other than their closer Drew Storen with a WAR over 1.0, and that's Blake Treinen who had a WAR of 1.1, and is not a great option for the setup role.