MLB

Max Scherzer trade: Dodgers finalizing blockbuster deal for Nationals ace and Trea Turner, per report

The Los Angeles Dodgers are close to a deal that would see them acquire Nationals ace Max Scherzer along with shortstop All-Star shortstop Trea Turner, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal would reportedly send catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-hander Josiah Gray, and others to D.C. Earlier in the day, the Padres were close to a deal to acquire Scherzer, per CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden, but that deal was never finalized. Instead, the reigning World Series champions are set to pull off one of the biggest trade deadline blockbusters in recent memory.

Scherzer, the top pitcher on the trading block, missed a recent scheduled start because of triceps discomfort, but he laid those concerns to rest with a strong outing against the Phillies on Thursday. He allowed one run in six innings and in his final frame Scherzer registered 97 mph with his fastball. On the season, Scherzer has pitched to a 2.76 ERA with 147 strikeouts and 28 walks in 111 innings. In other words, he’s been close to peak in 2021. He’s owed the balance of a $34.5 million salary for this season and is eligible for free agency this coming winter. 

Turner, 28, is presently out after testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. On the season, he’s hit .322/.369/.521 (146 OPS+) with 18 home runs and 21 steals (on 24 tries). Turner, a first-time All-Star in 2021, will remain under team control through the 2022 season, and should become the Dodgers’ starting shortstop, with incumbent Corey Seager sidelined by a fractured hand.

Scherzer originally joined the Nationals on a seven-year deal worth $191 million prior to the 2015 season. That contract now stands out as one of the best free-agent deals ever handed out to a pitcher.

Scherzer’s situation was more complex than the normal trade candidate for a variety of reasons. He possessed the ability to veto any trade thanks to his 10-5 rights, a fancy way of saying that he had more than 10 years of big-league service time and at least five consecutive with his current team. On top of that, the Nationals’ deadline direction was unclear until recently, and owner Ted Lerner has been known to squash deals in the past, including a 2018 agreement that would have sent outfielder Bryce Harper to the Houston Astros.

Ruiz, 23, is a switch-hitter who has appeared in eight big-league games. He’s spent most of this season in Triple-A, hitting .311/.381/.631 with 16 home runs and nearly as many walks (23) as strikeouts (27). Ruiz’s power gains (he’d previously never homered more than 12 times in a season) have been accompanied by a drastic shift in his batted-ball profile: according to FanGraphs, his groundball rate has dipped from 49 percent to 24 percent. If those changes are here to stay, he could prove to be the ever-rare two-way backstop. 

Gray, 23, only recently made his big-league debut. He’d made four appearances at Triple-A this season, compiling a 2.87 ERA and a 11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Gray has shown four pitches: a mid-90s fastball, two breaking balls, and a changeup. He has a track record of throwing strikes and should be able to step into Scherzer’s vacancy in Washington’s rotation.



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