WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a surprising move to upgrade an already imposing rotation, the Washington Nationals agreed to a seven-year contract with 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no deal had been announced.
Scherzer, a 30-year-old right-handed starter, became a free agent after spending the past five seasons with the Detroit Tigers. He turned down an offer from Detroit last March that would have paid him $144 million from 2015-20.
He was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 2014, a year after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and being voted the best pitcher in the American League.
The NL East champion Nationals' starting staff in 2014 included Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister -- Scherzer's former teammate with the Tigers -- Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark.
That group already was considered among the best -- if not the best -- rotation in the majors, and Scherzer's addition only makes it better.
The question now is what move could come next for the Nationals, who might pursue a trade.
Zimmermann went 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 199 2-3 innings in 2014, and he threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history on the last day of the regular season. But he can enter free agency after next season.
Last season, Strasburg was 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 215 innings; Fister was 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA; Gonzalez went 10-10 with a 3.57 ERA, and Roark went 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 198 2-3 innings.
Gonzalez, third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2012, is the only left-hander in the bunch.