MLB Rumors: Top Trade Reports Entering 2021 Deadline Day
Max Scherzer might be the first player to go into the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Washington Nationals cap when all is said and done. Still, he is likely to depart from D.C. in the coming days.
The Nats have become bona fide sellers ahead of Friday afternoon's MLB trade deadline. Washington came into July just two games back of the New York Mets in the National League East but has since fallen to 7.5 games back after going 6-16 to start the month. General manager Mike Rizzo will take inquiries on just about everyone not named Juan Soto, but Scherzer is likely to be the belle of the ball.
Here are the latest rumors on Scherzer and a couple of other top names of interest ahead of Friday's deadline.
Max Scherzer Prefers to Join NL West Contenders
Max Scherzer has some leverage in trade discussions and he might use it.
The Nationals ace is drawing widespread interest, with ESPN's Jeff Passan reporting even the low-payroll Tampa Bay Rays have made inquiries. According to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, the Rays are indeed one of eight teams known to be in on "Mad Max."
However, Scherzer has 10-to-5 rights that give him veto powers on certain trades, and he might have three specific destinations in his sights.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Scherzer's "preference" is to be traded to one of the NL West contenders, the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, or San Francisco Giants. Additionally, Rosenthal noted the Nationals are ramping up discussions on Scherzer to give him time to waive the no-trade clause.
The veteran right-hander would have a major impact on any of the aforementioned NL West clubs, not to mention several other contenders around the game. Scherzer has suddenly entered the spotlight as perhaps the top asset available, and it might be a matter of time before he is playing elsewhere.
One complication, as Passan and others noted, is the deferrals on Scherzer's contract through 2028. However, the Nats might enhance their prospect return should they agree to pay down some of that deferred money.
Uncertainty About Trevor Story Getting Dealt
At the start of the season, one player unanimously agreed upon as a guy sure to be dealt by the trade deadline: Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story.
The Rockies had traded away star third baseman Nolan Arenado earlier in the offseason. Considering Story was entering the final season of his contract, and the Rockies appeared nowhere close to contending, it seemed like a certainty he would move.
Only, that no longer appears to be the case.
Jeff Passan reported even those teams that have spoken to Colorado about Story feel a "sense" he will not be traded. There also appear to be worries about his regression in 2021.
Ken Rosenthal reported some teams are concerned about Story's arm. That wouldn't figure to help his trade value, particularly considering his .733 OPS and 89 OPS+ marks are both the lowest of his career.
Story is a legitimate five-tool star when things are going right. However, perhaps concerns about the arm and poor offensive numbers have led to offers the Rockies might deem too weak to consider.
It now appears possible Colorado retains its shortstop to make the qualifying offer to him and receive a compensatory draft pick should he sign elsewhere in free agency.
Giants and Cubs Discussed Kris Bryant, Confusion About Return Package
If Max Scherzer is the most popular pitcher thought to be available ahead of the deadline, then Kris Bryant is probably the most notable position player.
The Chicago Cubs star is in a walk year and, considering the North Siders are 8.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot, is likely to be traded. Bryant has showcased his value as a guy who can play all three outfield spots and both corner infield positions while supplying power at the dish (.867 OPS) and good baserunning tendencies.
The Giants appear to have an interest in Bryant. In fact, it was initially reported they had a serious interest.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Giants and Cubs were discussing a Bryant trade that would include San Francisco's No. 2 prospect, Joey Bart, going back to Chicago. Morosi later clarified Bart would only be available if the Cubs added other players to the mix. Still, it seemed notable the Giants appeared willing to part with the young catcher, whom MLB.com rated as the No. 17 prospect in the majors.
It's rare a rental player (even of Bryant's caliber) nets such a highly-ranked prospect. However, Bart's rumored availability might reflect a greater urgency to win now in San Francisco.
Or, maybe not. Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic silenced the noise by reporting he had it on "good authority" that the Giants would walk away from any Cubs proposal that included Bart.
This does not mean the Giants won't be the team to trade for Bryant. San Francisco has a wealth of outfield prospects who might interest the Cubs. Chicago might also look to package their star with a Ryan Tepera or Zach Davies to try and fetch a better haul.
Regardless, Bart's availability in a potential Cubs-Giants deal appears to be in question.
All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.