The Washington Nationals have to consider their options over the next several weeks, and trading Max Scherzer might be among them.
Toward the end of May, ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg could be on the trade block if the Washington Nationals if they didn’t make some hay in the standings. They are 6-4 since that report (9-4 in their last 13 games), but they’ve only gained a half-game on the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies over that time.
Entering their game Saturday night against the San Diego Padres, Washington (28-35) is 8.5 games back of the Phillies and 6.5 games back of the NL Wild Card lead. So they are nearing decision time on their trade deadline plans, and whether they should be a buyer or a seller.
There will be some name-brand starting pitchers available as the trade deadline approaches, including Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman and (likely) Trevor Bauer. But the Nationals could dangle the biggest fish in the trade market for pitching, and the trade market as a whole truly.
Appearing on the “Big Time Baseball” podcast, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman could consider trading three-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer.
We could see some huge, huge players on the market…it’s possibly, certainly that (the Nationals) would consider, if things again turn south for them to trade Max Scherzer who is one of the top free-agent signings of all time. Still has two years to go, still performing, but makes big money, they’ve got a little bit of a transition in ownership to the son Mark Lerner from Ted, so (it’s) something to look at.
Scherzer (35 on July 27) has shown no signs of slowing down so far this year, with a 3.06 ERA (major league leading 2.13 FIP), an NL-leading 12.3 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9 over 13 starts (85.1 innings). He is scheduled to start against the Padres Saturday night.
However, Scherzer is owed significant money. He has two years and roughly $70.5 million in salary left on his seven-year, $210 million contract after this year. He is also owed a total of $105 million in deferred money, $15 million each July 1 from 2022-2028 according to Spotrac, thanks to how the Nationals structure their big-money contracts.
If the Nationals get serious about moving Scherzer, they’ll surely have to pay a big chunk of what he’s owed. They seemed to be in sell-mode last year, on their way to an 82-80 record, including a trade which would have sent Bryce Harper to the Astros but wound up being nixed by ownership.
Trading Scherzer would be on a different level though. It would be a sign the Nationals have given up on the idea of contending in 2019, while also officially waving the white-flag on what’s left of the core group of players from the last handful of years.