Max Scherzer to the San Diego Padres makes sense

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Credit: AP Photo

Max Scherzer could very well be the trade piece the San Diego Padres need to obtain in order to earn their first World Series title. 

We all know that the San Diego Padres will make a flurry of trades this coming week. Adam Frazier is just the beginning. A.J. Preller is not shy about obtaining talent, and the third-place Padres could use some help in a few key areas.

The offense, especially the bench, could use a boost in production. Frazier will help, but you get a sense the Padres are not done. The bullpen has been consistent, but injuries have depleted the depth within the group. However, Matt Strahm could help the team in that regard after missing the first half of the season with an injured knee. The Padres will lean on the lefty, but the team really needs more options to go deep into the season.

The last issue of concern is the starting staff and the inconsistency that has plagued the group the whole season. Every starting pitcher, with the exception of Joe Musgrove, has spent time on the IL this season. Blake Snell missed time with food poisoning, Chris Paddack missed time with COVID-19 issues. Both Yu Darvish (hip/back) and Ryan Weathers (leg/ankle) suffered injuries, and Adrian Morejon was lost for the season early in 2021. Then there is Dinelson Lamet, who will likely be relegated to relief duties with a balky right elbow.

The San Diego Padres need starting pitching, and arguably one of the best may be available this trade season.

The Washington Nationals currently sit 10 games under the .500 mark and eight games behind the New York Mets for first place in the N.L. East. Their season is essentially over, and there are whispers that the team could move some of its key contributors. Among them is Max Scherzer. The right-handed pitcher is in the last few months of his contract and could be dealt by the Nationals as they restructure for 2022.

Scherzer is 7-4 this season with a 2.83 ERA and a 0.886 WHIP in 18 starts, and 105 innings pitched. The pitcher traditionally eats innings and goes deep into games even though he is a strikeout pitcher. “Mad Max” owns a career 182-97 record with a 3.19 ERA. The eight-time All-Star is well-known for his fiery demeanor on the mound. Scherzer is intense and at the age of 36, still a dominant pitcher.

The price tag for Max Scherzer wouldn’t be too steep (being that he is essentially a rental), but the right-handed pitcher owns a no-trade clause. There are whispers that he will not agree to a deal unless a team that trades for him grants the pitcher an extension. This is complicated, as the Padres and Nationals would need to first agree to a deal, then Preller would need to work out the details with Scott Boras on a future contract for Scherzer. Sounds like a far-fetched idea.

It is not clear if the pitcher does indeed want an extension to waive his no-trade clause. The reality is Scherzer would benefit more financially by waiting until the off-season, where he will get several teams competing for his services. The Padres probably could entertain the idea of extending Scherzer for a season or two, but it would have to be at a lower cost than what he is currently making. The pitcher made a little over $34.5 million this season in the last year of a 7-years/$210-million contract signed in January of 2015.

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The Padres are an attractive option for Scherzer if he is chasing a ring. There is no doubt that San Diego is one of a few teams the veteran pitcher would even consider joining. The no-trade clause is not an issue for the Padres, but can A.J. Preller meet the asking price?

At this point, the Padres farm system is still very deep. There is no doubt that the Padres could package a few players together to tempt the Nationals. If they really wanted to sweep the Nats off their feet, they can offer one of their top-5 prospects. When your goal is a World Series victory, you pull the trigger on a deal. If push comes to shove, the Padres may need to deal a prospect they love. They may be forced to deal a player that was in their plans.

In obtaining the three-time Cy Young Award-winner, the Padres would immediately possess the most dominant pitching staff in all of baseball. There are very few pitchers who you can consider an ace of a staff. You can arguably count them on one hand. Scherzer is indeed an ace. He craves the ball each day. The pitcher refuses to come out of games and leads by example, showing an incredible work ethic and a tenacity that is second to none while on the mound. Max Scherzer is a gamer in every sense of the word, and his acquisition would easily propel the Padres into the playoffs again in 2021.

There is a risk, though.

This week, the pitcher failed to make his start citing arm problems. He reported triceps tightness, which is not a good thing for a team attempting to acquire him. The Padres ignored these signs last season as they dealt several relevant prospects to the Indians for Mike Clevinger. The right-hander eventually went down with an elbow injury and had Tommy John surgery in the winter. The Padres were burned. This cannot happen again. The team will need to think twice before risking another prospect haul for a pitcher that can not perform.

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Max Scherzer is worth the risk, but the Padres better do their homework. Pay the price. Give the Nationals what they want. Perhaps obtain a few more players from them (Josh Harrison, Brad Hand, etc.). Players that fill a role and strengthen the depth of the Padres.

What a glorious time to be a Padres fan.

Every rumor. Each player available is potentially a trade target for the Padres. Ownership is prepared to spend more, and the team has prospects to trade and acquire whoever is dangled in front of the young GM. Stay tuned, Padres fans, Preller is on the prowl, and his latest addition could be Mad Max.

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