Max Scherzer used to face Jacob deGrom on Opening Day. Now, he’s going to cheer on deGrom on Opening Day? Wearing home whites? At Citi Field? Against the Washington Nationals?

That’s quite a visual. There’s almost nothing that could have tarnished Scherzer’s sparkling, snorting, 6½-season tenure in Washington — except this. Except signing with a division rival because the division rival offered the most money — $130 million over three years. Except facing his old team 19 times a season — which means maybe five or six starts against the Nats annually from 2022 to 2024.

Scherzer has earned the right to make his own choices, but those choices don’t have to sit right. Scherzer won two of his three Cy Young awards with the Nats. He won the 2019 World Series with the Nats. He started three All-Star Games as a Nat. He threw two no-hitters — including one against the Mets — as a Nat. He struck out 20 batters in a game as a Nat. He and his wife had their three kids when he was a Nat. He is supposed to go into the Hall of Fame as a Nat.

And he’ll finish his career as … a Met?

When the Nationals dealt Scherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline last summer, it felt sad but necessary. Yes, the day he reared back for his 3,000th career strikeout — and tipped his Dodger blue cap to a roaring Dodger Stadium crowd — seemed odd, as did his fist-pumping relief appearance to close out the San Francisco Giants in the division series. Those are the moments he once shared with Washington fans. Instead, he was sharing them with the fans of a team he once was driven to beat. Sports can be cruel.

But at least those moments didn’t somehow feel unfaithful. Scherzer became a Dodger not because he chose to become a Dodger but because the Nationals’ position in the standings dictated a reset. Last summer, he was just a pawn. Now, damned if he doesn’t feel like a mercenary.

Look, there’s no shame in any athlete taking the most money he or she is offered. Scherzer is an ardent supporter of and an active voice in the MLB Players Association, so getting ownership to pony up market rates — if $130 million over three years is, in fact, the market rate — is part of his ethos. If the Dodgers or Los Angeles Angels — who were both in on Scherzer as late as Monday, according to one person with knowledge of the discussions — really wanted Scherzer, all they had to do was meet those terms.

But because they didn’t, Scherzer’s arrival in Queens can feel personal for Nats fans. The Nationals play the Dodgers three times at home and three times in L.A. next summer. They play the Angels three times in Anaheim — and then won’t see them again for three years. Return to Nationals Park in either of those caps, and Scherzer would have been warmly embraced.

Now, that’s hard to imagine. Now, he plays for a team Washington will face 19 times next year. Now, he plays for a team that is clearly trying to spend its way to a National League East title. Now, instead of trying to outduel deGrom, he’ll be teaming with him. There’s every likelihood the Nationals will open the season by facing deGrom on March 31 at Citi Field — and then face Scherzer two days later. What a way to drive home their sudden status as have-nots in the NL.

Compare Scherzer’s personal decision to that of another former National: Bryce Harper. When Harper returned to Nationals Park in April 2019 as a member of the NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies, the Nats appropriately arranged a video tribute to their homegrown MVP. With rain falling at the yard in the minutes before first pitch, Harper appeared on the steps in the visitors’ dugout to watch the massive scoreboard in center field. The fans booed the video, then booed his first at-bat — against Scherzer — and have booed him ever since.

Unlike Harper, Scherzer didn’t receive offers from the rebuilding Nationals. Still, cheers for a primary member of a team that stands between yours and a division title? We’ll see.

In signing with the Mets, Scherzer goes from a symbol of what made the Nationals strong and intimidating for so long — indeed, those were his brown and blue eyes staring down from above right field — to a symbol of what a steppingstone this club has become. Harper is gone — and was just named the NL MVP in another uniform. Anthony Rendon is gone. Trea Turner is gone. Scherzer was already gone — but with the Mets, there’ll be a more daily reminder of whom he departed for. Which is, of course, another long-winded way of saying: Use this offseason to sign Juan Soto.

That evergreen sentiment aside, there’s another element that doesn’t sit right in all this. Scherzer is as inquisitive and curious a player as there is in the game. His working environment matters to him. He must be aware of what a circus the Mets always seem to be.

Yes, newish owner Steve Cohen is flexing financial muscle and a fan-like commitment to winning. But Cohen’s first hire as a general manager to work under team president Sandy Alderson, Jared Porter, was fired because he sent lewd pictures to a female reporter — a transgression that fit in with the old, disgusting antics of former manager Mickey Callaway and others in the organization. Porter’s replacement, Zack Scott, was arrested for driving under the influence in August and fired this month.

The Dodgers are annually poised to post the best record in baseball and contend for a World Series title. The Mets are more often a mess.

Maybe Scherzer, who turns 38 in July, helps fix that. He certainly set a new tone when he arrived in Washington, and it felt like anything was possible while he was here. But there’s also this: What does he have left?

If there’s one thing I learned about Scherzer in his nearly seven years as a National, it’s not to underestimate him. As Ryan Zimmerman said in the spring of 2020, “He’s the Tom Brady of baseball.” And maybe that’s so.

From 2015 to 2021 — his entire tenure as a National and Dodger — no one threw more innings than Scherzer’s 1,297⅓. Only deGrom and Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler of the Dodgers had a better ERA than Scherzer’s 2.75. No one was within 250 of Scherzer’s 1,699 strikeouts, and only Kershaw averaged fewer walks and hits per inning than Scherzer’s 0.95. He was the best and most durable pitcher of that stretch — full stop.

But part of the selling point Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, used in negotiations with the Nationals all those years ago was that, for such an experienced pitcher, Scherzer had relatively little tread on the tires. That’s no longer true. By the end of this past postseason — when he didn’t take the ball on full rest in the NL Championship Series and the Dodgers were eliminated by the Braves — he seemed absolutely gassed.

Maybe that was just a 2021 thing. The Mets have to hope so. They just paid more per year than any team has paid any player in history. On a blustery Monday in November, that can bring warm feelings to Queens. But on South Capitol Street, the idea of a future Hall of Famer stomping around the Nationals Park mound wearing the blue and orange of the visiting Mets is incongruous and unsettling, if not fully depressing.