Despite only being 59 games into the season, Max Scherzer has already become the subject of numerous trade rumors. This is nothing new, but to Nationals fans, having your team’s ace constantly engaged in trade rumors gets old fast.
Dating back to 2019, Scherzer has been floated by the media as a top trade target, but Mike Rizzo and company have scoffed at the idea. However, this time around they may want to listen.
Through 12 starts, Scherzer is 5-4, with a 2.21 ERA, 104 strikeouts, and a 3.04 FIP. At 36 years old, the future Hall of Famer has continued to defy father time, but unfortunately, his team is holding him back.
Currently, Washington is 25-34, eight games behind the Mets in the NL East. Losers of six of their last ten, the Nats boast a dreadful -32 run differential. The offense just can’t seem to click on a consistent basis, having scored three or fewer runs 35 times.
Sadly, that is just a portion of the team’s woes. Mike Rizzo has invested over $95 million into the starting rotation, but outside of Max Scherzer, the pitching staff has been a mess. Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, and Jon Lester have combined for -1.0 WAR. As a whole, the starting rotation is 14-24, with a 4.24 ERA, and a 4.63 FIP.
With Washington’s next 11 games against the Giants, Pirates, Mets, and Phillies, the schedule won’t get any easier. If the team continues to struggle against average to elite teams then Mike Rizzo will need to seriously listen to any offers for the team’s ace.
Gauging the trade market for Max Scherzer is in the team’s best interest.
Sports Illustrated recently released five trade fits for Scherzer with the Boston Red Sox being listed. The trade entailed Boston parting ways with the talented Jeter Downs, who was acquired in the Mookie Betts trade. While it is hard to imagine Boston offering MLB Pipeline’s 38th ranked prospect for a few months of Scherzer, Washington needs to say yes immediately to such an offer.
It will be a tough pill to swallow to watch the greatest pitcher in Nationals history leave, but it’s the smart decision. In order to compete in the near future, Washington’s farm system needs an infusion of talent and Scherzer can help with that. Rizzo should follow the same path he tried with Bryce Harper back in 2018.
Rizzo had a deal in place to send Harper to Houston at the 2018 trade deadline, but ownership vetoed it. Rizzo’s plan was to allow Harper to try and compete for a ring, allowing Washington to add talent, and then work on a new contract in the off-season.
Scherzer, who turns 37 in July, only has a few elite years left and wants to win now. Allow him the chance to finish the season with a contender, stock the farm, and then meet up over the off-season to work out a new deal. While this situation is rare, it isn’t unheard of.
Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees come to mind. The fireballer was dealt to the Cubs at the 2016 trade deadline, netting the Yankees Gleybor Torres. The following off-season, Chapman returned to the Bronx where he still resides.
Holding onto Scherzer for sentimental value does not help the franchise’s future. Unless Scherzer makes it clear he won’t re-sign if moved during the season (highly unlikely), this needs to be the way to go.