The Major League Baseball Trade Deadline is Friday, and there are a lot of big names being bandied about – but none bigger than Washington Nationals three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, a lock first-ballot future Hall of Famer. The Nationals are going nowhere this season and Scherzer is a pending free agent so he could be dealt, and if so would certainly shake up the 2021 World Series odds.
MLB Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer trade rumorsScherzer last pitched on July 18 when he allowed four runs on four hits and three walks with eight strikeouts over seven innings in a no-decision against the Padres. He’s 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 142 strikeouts on the season over 105 innings.
He was supposed to start this past Saturday in Baltimore but didn’t due to right triceps discomfort. Scherzer had an MRI, and Nationals manager Davey Martinez told reporters it came back “extremely clean.” The injury was picked up from swinging the bat and not throwing. Even with that minor problem, it’s not expected to scare off suitors. His absence now is another issue for the Washington rotation, which has been without Stephen Strasburg since early June because of lingering neck problems.
Because Scherzer has spent 10 years in the majors and at least five with the same team, he can dictate where he can be traded but is willing to waive his no-trade clause. Scherzer reportedly “strongly prefers the West Coast,” which obviously means the Giants, Padres and Dodgers in the NL West, while such AL West clubs as the Angels, Athletics, or Mariners couldn’t be ruled out. However, Scherzer wants to compete for a World Series, so the Angels and Mariners probably aren’t likely.
The roughly $11.8 million remaining of Scherzer’s $35 million salary for 2021 is entirely deferred until 2028, so a new team wouldn’t have to pay that money out for seven years. Still, the luxury-tax hit would be approximately $10 million, a figure that might discourage some clubs. Scherzer has another $7.5 million in signing bonus money due this September, but that’s the Nationals’ obligation.
The Dodgers probably make the most sense as they have all the money in the world and a big need because of the absence of Trevor Bauer. The 2020 NL Cy Young winner is currently under investigation by MLB and Pasadena police for sexual assault and may not be back this season or ever again with LA.
The Mets are considered heavily interested, but would the Nationals really trade him inside the NL East? If Scherzer had more years on his contract probably not, but since he doesn’t. Under the domestic violence policy, the Dodgers cannot release Bauer until the investigation is complete and he serves any discipline, but reportedly most players on the team don’t want him back.
Mets general manager Zack Scott when asked about making intra-division trades, said, “I don’t have any problem dealing within our division. …There are times, I’ve had experiences in my past, where I’ve seen teams within the same division have an in-division tax associated with the trade. It’s not clear whether that is the case now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is for some players. I don’t think we should be afraid to make moves that improve our club.”
Don’t rule out the Houston Astros. Scherzer is one of the most competitive people in the game. The chance to join the Astros and make a run at a World Series would be difficult for him to pass up even if they aren’t on the “West Coast.” Scherzer pitched for current Houston manager Dusty Baker for two seasons as a National. He won the Cy Young Award both times.Expert PredictionScherzer is traded to Dodgers
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