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Max Scherzer Trade Rumors: Padres Nearing Deal to Acquire Nationals Ace

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2021

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The San Diego Padres are reportedly on the verge of adding a future Hall of Famer to their pitching staff for the stretch run.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Padres are close to acquiring Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals. 

However, Rosenthal later added the Los Angeles Dodgers are still in the mix for the Nationals ace. Jon Heyman of MLB Network added the Los Angeles Angels are also still involved.

The idea that Washington would trade Scherzer this season is not new. After all, he is scheduled for free agency during the upcoming offseason, and Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported in April that the right-hander's desire to join a contender at this stage of his career "doesn't seem so far-fetched."

The Nationals got off to a poor start this year before briefly putting themselves back in contention, but a recent stretch with 15 losses in their past 21 games has dropped their record to 46-54. That made the decision of whether to trade him before free agency to accelerate a rebuild or keep him in a playoff push all the more notable.

"Max is a competitor," a source close to Scherzer told Feinsand in April. "If he thinks he has a chance to win, I think he would be open to several scenarios."

His willingness to be traded is also important because he has full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player—one who has played at least 10 years in the league and the last five years with the same team.

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While Scherzer is 37 years old, he has shown few signs of slowing down this season with a 2.83 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 142 strikeouts in 105 innings.

The three-time Cy Young winner and eight-time All-Star is one of the defining players of his generation and finished in the top five of Cy Young voting for seven straight seasons from 2013 through 2019.

He spent his first two years with the Arizona Diamondbacks and his next five with the Detroit Tigers. It was with Detroit that he won his first Cy Young and started to establish himself as one of the best players in the league. But five of his All-Star selections, two of his Cy Youngs and his one World Series title came on the Nationals after they signed him prior to the 2015 campaign.

The right-hander posted a 3.74 ERA during the shortened 2020 season, which broke a streak of five straight years with a sub-3.00 ERA.

Scherzer will look to start a new streak and compete for a second World Series title with the Padres once this trade becomes official.

San Diego general manager A.J. Preller has not been shy when it comes to adding talent for the stretch run. He made a series of moves last season that paid off, as the Padres reached the postseason for the first time since 2006. 

On Monday, Preller acquired All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates to bolster the lineup. 

The addition of Scherzer would not only help close the gap between the Padres and the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West over the next two months, but he gives San Diego a legitimate frontline starter who can carry the rotation in a potential postseason series.

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