The baseball world already knows about the Washington Nationals‘ trio of aces — but what if they can make it a quartet?
That’s a legitimate scenario and something that GM Mike Rizzo could have the luxury to think about given the depth of his team, though it’s probably right to assume that no such discussions will even begin to form until the team’s search for a new manager is complete.
Now, you’d be right to say that this is a team with most of its core already in place and is one which only requires a few tweaks to be truly playoff-ready, but what if they went another way?
What if instead of tweaking, they attempt to make a big splash by putting infielder Anthony Rendon up on the market? There are obviously significant consequence to trading the former top prospect as far as the direction of the team’s future goes, but it’s one that they should consider.
Why? Well, that a likely AL Cy Young winner may end up being on the trade market this offseason changes things a little.
It ‘s worth mentioning that, Detroit Tigers strikeout artist Max Scherzer‘s name can really be interchanged with that of Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price here (as they are facing similar situations at this point of their careers), but for the sake of argument, let’s go with the former here.
The Tigers will have current second baseman Omar Infante coming off the books at the end of this season, and will be looking to move on to a future option that is more controllable and affordable (thus why they might consider moving Scherzer to begin with). While they are high on prospect Hernan Perez and could hand him the reins in 2014, his .197/.217/.227. -0.6 fWAR cup of tea in 2013 suggests that it may be too early to do so, especially in the youngster’s on-base skills department.
Rendon, on the other hand, would give them the offensive upside in a MLB-ready bat who has already made a 1.5 fWAR splash through 98 games this season, with the best being yet to come.
A trade involving the two players could conceivably set the Tigers up at second base for years, and even give them the option of having a future third baseman for when they decide to move Miguel Cabrera out of the hot corner and into a 1B/DH role — especially if his new-found health issues start being an issue.
Washington, of course, would have to vault their payroll among the highest in MLB for this to work. Not only would they have to sign Scherzer to a long-term contract to make it worthwhile, but they’d likely have to look for a more permanent option at second base as well, as Danny Espinosa is far from a sure thing and Steve Lombardozzi is better served as a bench player.
That said, it’s not as though they haven’t made big splashes before (Jayson Werth) … imagine if they could pull off a trade for Scherzer and convince Robinson Cano to move to D.C.?
Yes, the amount of money required would be mind-boggling, making it more like pipe dream especially given that the Nats have their own future long-term contract extension candidates like Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann and Bryce Harper to think about.
Still, even to be unrealistic for the sake of dreaming … it’s hard to imagine a 2014 Nats team with a quartet of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Scherzer, along with Cano manning second base and hitting in the middle of the lineup, not being a lock for a World Series appearance, yes?