So what does the Nats’ No. 1 starter, Cy Young Award winner and most important player think about these changes to the person that will call his games?
“You’re always developing trust,” Scherzer said Sunday at Nationals Winterfest. “I go back to Willy (Ramos) and Matt Wieters, there’s times where we’re yelling at each other. Even in year two. We both think we’re right in certain situations, and I want my catchers to be right.
“There’s times when they’re convicted with something and I’m wrong. I want them to bring that to my attention. So that’s very important part of the relationship. That’s something you always try to foster. Hey, we’re both gonna be going at it. If you’re prepared and know what you’re doing, bring me up to speed on how you see the game.
“So with two new guys here, we have a great opportunity to get better, to continue to learn the game from their vantage point.”
Scherzer recounted his exchanges this week with Gomes and president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo. Scherzer found out about the trade for Gomes before Rizzo even told him what was happening.
“I had a friend who was texting me: ‘Hey, are you guys getting Yan Gomes?’ I hadn’t heard any reports,” Scherzer said. “He said it was close, that the deal could get done. So I reached out and said, ‘Wait, is this done?’ (Gomes) said, ‘Yes.’ That was good.
“Then Rizzo texted me and said, ‘Deal’s done. Why don’t you text him?’ I was like, ‘Riz, I’ve got people. I’m ahead of you. I know you’re important, but I can get to the other players in the league.’ “
Scherzer said even with all the familiarity he had with Ramos and Wieters, he still embraces the new opportunities and new ideas he will get to see from Suzuki and Gomes.
“I’m excited,” Scherzer said. “When you get some fresh faces in here, when you get some new ideas about what’s going on with the rest of the league and how they’re looking at guys and how they’re preparing, it can only make you better. ...
“Working with Wieters was great. I really thought he helped me. We really pushed the envelope of what I was thinking and what he was thinking. It made us better. I really enjoyed working with him. I’m sad to see him go - or, not be brought back - but this is baseball. Things move on, and here we are with the opportunity to have two veteran catchers.
“Kurt, he’s been around the league, so he’s seen a lot of different things. I’m excited to see how he thinks and continue to work with him. The fun will start in the second half with those guys. The first half, it takes a while to really know what’s going on and get on the same page. The second half, that’s when we’ll really know where we’re at.”
Scherzer also pointed out that getting Suzuki is important because he comes from the Braves, a National League East rival.
“It’s gonna be great,” Scherzer said. “We need to chase down the Braves, and we just stole their catcher. I know basically how they’re preparing for me. So the easy answer is great. But the grinding part, that’s more of their personnel. You talk about Freddie (Freeman) and (Nick) Markakis and those guys, those at-bats, that’s their M.O. That’s really in their DNA to be able to work out an at-bat. For me, I can have Kurt tell me everything, but if that’s their DNA, that’s their DNA.”
With the catching spot all locked up, Scherzer focused on the possibility of adding a frontline starter. Scherzer said he has the utmost confidence in Rizzo to make the right decision there as well.
“Rizzo’s the architect here,” he said. “He puts together the team, and it takes ownership’s commitment with the resources to go out and bring in the pieces that he sees fit. In my time here, Rizzo has done a great job of identifying players, whether it’s signing or trades, and bringing up young guys that we’ve effectively continued to have winning ballclubs year in and year out.
“I know last year was a disappointment for all of us, but I think that gives Rizzo even more motivation to go out there and find a way for our team to get better, to get us to where we need to be - and that’s to try to win a World Series.”
Scherzer appreciates that Rizzo is a lot like him. Scherzer was very upset to have to sit at home and watch the playoffs. He desperately wanted to be pitching in those games. He knows Rizzo shares his competitive fire. The offseason is go time for Rizzo. Scherzer appreciates that his GM is not sitting around, but adding relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough and the two catchers. And the Winter Meetings don’t start until next week.
“It gives you some optimism. It gives you some bounce in the step because the last few months, it’s been sour grapes,” Scherzer said. “I hate watching playoff baseball from home. I’m a fan of the game. I watched the games, watched the World Series. But when you’re sitting on your couch, man, you’re just sitting there with a baseball and you think of all the little things you did that didn’t work.
“You think about all those mistakes you made, and what parts of the season you would do differently. That’s everybody. That’s why when you start looking about how you’re building the team for 2019, it does put a little bounce back in your step. That’s why, when I start training on Monday, I’ll be ready to go.”