Max Scherzer of the Mets stands on the mound during the...

Max Scherzer of the Mets stands on the mound during the fourth inning against the Dodgers at Citi Field on July 16. Credit: Jim McIsaac

In the light of day, Max Scherzer’s comments Friday night spoke to a ruptured relationship with Mets brass. He didn’t bother with artifice or false optimism — no, it was just simmering disappointment and maybe a little bit of hurt.

“Gotta have a conversation with the front office,” Scherzer said tersely — a foreboding “we need to talk,” delivered in such a way that it felt as if a breakup might be imminent.

It looks as if they talked.

It also looks as if it could have gone better.

And it looks as if there could be long-lasting repercussions.

On Saturday, Scherzer waived his no-trade clause and agreed to head to the AL West-leading Rangers — a complicated deal that had Mets general manager Billy Eppler and Rangers GM Chris Young negotiating into the evening.

Pending MLB approval, the trade will net the Mets a highly touted Double-A prospect — shortstop Luisangel Acuna, Ronald Acuna Jr.’s 21-year-old brother — and a bill.


Scherzer will opt into 2024 and the Rangers will pay all but $22.5 million, meaning the Mets will have paid about $64 million for half a season of work, according to a source.

It was the type of news no one would have predicted in the offseason: Scherzer had a full no-trade clause and bought a house on Long Island.

The move shocked Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso, who still appeared confused after the game. When Eppler traded David Robertson on Thursday, it signaled the beginning of the end, but even by those standards, trading Scherzer created a palpable jolt.

“If the guy with a no-trade clause can get traded, then anyone can,” said Alonso, who still hasn’t inked a long-term deal, adding that he’s briefly thought about getting dealt. “I’m sure there are implications [for next year]. I’ll think about it for sure. I’m still just perplexed.”

There’s a reason Alonso has to think about it.

Acuna potentially could move up quickly, but the players the Mets got for Robertson were 19-year-old rookie-ball prospects who, even in a best-case scenario, might debut years from now.

Scherzer agreeing to a trade, meanwhile, speaks to how a veteran ballplayer feels about the direction in which the organization is going — namely, a direction that says that maybe 2024 won’t be a priority.

That type of thing is contagious. Asked if he is confident in Eppler’s vision for both the short-term and long-term future of this team, Nimmo paused.

“Yeah, I’m sure . . . ,” he said, then stopped. “We’ll have that conversation later.”

After the Robertson trade, one that notably was made with the division rival Marlins, Eppler spoke of organizational need versus team need, and how sometimes the two are at odds. Owner Steve Cohen has said he wants to build a sustainable model built on a robust farm system — a special type of omelet that everyone now realizes might come at the expense of a few superstar eggs.

That’s all well and good, but go ahead and put yourself in Scherzer’s shoes.

You’re a first-ballot Hall of Famer who wants to win a second World Series before calling it a career. You came to the Mets after their owner bombastically put a now-rescinded three-to-five-year deadline on a championship. You also watched as Atlanta overcame a 10 1⁄2-game deficit on June 1 to clinch the division last year. Now you’re wondering if the 2024 season is going to be a repeat of this one — overpromise, underperform, wait until next year . . . until you run out of next years.

If Scherzer doesn’t have confidence that the Mets can win soon, why should any of the rest of us? Why should an incoming free agent? Why should Alonso?

“This game can make you feel,” said Buck Showalter, a manager who, like Scherzer, is running out of time to win a championship (in this case, his first one). “You get on that emotional roller coaster [and] you ride it when it’s good. [But] it’s always around the corner, the negative part of it. At some point, some people [in the front office] have to make tough decisions.”

Of course, we can’t neglect the bare truth: Scherzer isn’t immune from blame. He couldn’t hold things down while Justin Verlander worked his way back from injury. He failed to deliver in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series last year, hastening the Mets’ exit, and he’s 9-4 this year with a 4.01 ERA. It’s not the type of production you expect from the $43 million he’s getting this season, the highest average annual value of any contract in baseball history.

But he’s also living in a world in which 12 teams make the playoffs; as most competitors of his caliber do, he probably thinks if they can just squeak by, they’ll have a chance. After all, he’s Max Scherzer. Justin Verlander is returning to form. Alonso is hitting like Alonso again. Kodai Senga is a revelation. And people have started to ask Showalter for Edwin Diaz updates.

That’s the tough part, isn’t it? Expanded playoffs give people hope, but hope can hurt as much as it can heal.

“Mentally and emotionally, this time of year is a challenge,” Showalter said. “Max has made it very clear why he gets up in the morning. He wants it to be here. That’s the way he’s always felt. He likes it here.”

Sometime between then and now, it seems Scherzer decided wanting to be here didn’t trump wanting to win another championship.

Mets fans should strongly consider why he felt the two might be mutually exclusive. It looks as if Mets players are already doing it.


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