A potential trade involving Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer seems increasingly feasible in the days leading up to the annual MLB trade deadline.
Over the weekend, Audacy MLB insider Jon Heyman broke the news that the slumping Nationals were considering unloading the three-time Cy Young Award winner, who is in the final year of his contract.
Now, a pair of followup reports have shed further light on the Nationals' apparent interest in selling before the deadline, as Scherzer's stance on moving on, and where he might end eventually end up.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo declared the team was open for business after suffering a weekend sweep at the hands of the Orioles, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN (subscription).
However, Scherzer isn't "guaranteed" to move, Passan notes, potentially in part because of his uniquely structured contract, which calls for lump salary payments of $15M every July 1 from 2022-28, after he deferred on collecting his $35M salary for each of the past three seasons. The Nationals and a trade partner would seemingly have to reach an agreement on the balance owed to Scherzer, at least for this year.
The 36-year-old ace, for his part, is "open" to being traded, according to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, and is unlikely to veto a trade, as is his right with 10-and-5 privileges (10 years in the Majors, 5 or more with the same team).
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays, who shook up the trade market with their surprising acquisition of slugger Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins, have already checked in with the Nats on Scherzer, according to Passan.
However, rival baseball executives see a pair of National League West contenders -- the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants -- as strong fits for Scherzer, Passan said.
The Dodgers could be seeking a replacement for ace Trevor Bauer amid his legal issues, Passan explained, while the first-place Giants could seek to bolster their strong starting rotation -- which has been led so far by breakouts from veterans Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani -- in their bid for a division title.
All of that being said, it's still possible Scherzer remains in Washington, according to Passan, but it sounds like there's already at least one suitor for his services, and likely more to come.
The eight-time All-Star signed a seven-year, $210M deal with the Nats in January 2015. He won his second and third Cy Young Awards with Washington, as well as a World Series title in 2019.
Scherzer was scratched prior to his last start due to triceps inflammation, but the team said an MRI was clean.