Dodgers Not Paying Max Scherzer During 2021 Season

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The Los Angeles Dodgers continued to flex their financial might as they acquired future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals for a package led by Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz at this season’s MLB trade deadline.

The Dodgers already had a payroll that was over the luxury tax threshold and they face free agency questions after the 2021 season. Including deferred salaries and former players still on the books, the Dodgers face roughly a $270 million payroll this season.

Of course, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has regularly stated the team doesn’t evaluate payroll in a window for just one season. Friedman reiterated that stance after the Dodgers’ blockbuster trade.

Perhaps influencing that was L.A. will get some relief this season thanks to the structure of Scherzer’s contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic:

The uniquely structured seven-year, $210 million free-agent deal Scherzer signed with the Nationals in January 2015 essentially pays him $15 million per year from ’15 to ’28. Scherzer’s payout this season is a $15 million portion of his $50 million signing bonus. He already has received half of that amount, with the other $7.5 million due in September.

The signing bonus, however, is solely the Nationals’ obligation, and not one an acquiring team would pay, according to two sources with knowledge of how a trade would work. The acquiring team instead would be responsible for the remainder of Scherzer’s $35 million salary for 2021 — about one-third.

Scherzer’s salary is deferred through 2028, so while the Dodgers will be responsible for paying that $35 million eventually, they won’t owe him anything this season. Instead, the Nationals remain on the hook for $15 million Scherzer is still to receive this season.

However, Scherzer will still count for around $10 million on the Dodgers’ payroll, which is based on the average annual value of his deal and the number of remaining games in the season.

Scherzer: joining Dodgers has been ‘seamless’

Entering Wednesday’s start against the Atlanta Braves, Scherzer is 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA for L.A. His production has been much-needed for their pursuit of a ninth consecutive National League West title, and joining a new team has gone well for the right-hander.

“It’s been great. The guys in here, this is a great clubhouse,” Scherzer said last week. “Having Trea with me as well, I really feel like the life change has been as seamless as possible. I feel like it’s been harder on my wife and kids than it has been on me.

“This has been a great team to join. We’ve been playing great baseball. Coming in day after day knowing if you just do your job, we have a great chance to win. That’s what you want as a player. We’re playing great baseball right now, but obviously we’re going to have to continue playing great baseball.

“We understand we’re in a playoff race and we’ve got to play our best baseball to finish the season.”

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