The Washington Nationals missed the playoffs last season after being pegged as early World Series favorites. Matt Williams replaced the retiring Davey Johnson at the helm and there are rumors floating around that Mike Rizzo is interested in acquiring another arm to add to Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. One pitcher who could become available is Detroit Tigers Cy Young frontrunner Max Scherzer.
Scherzer, 29, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks when Rizzo was Director of Scouting in Arizona so there is history there. The Tigers might be entertaining offers for their co-ace as he enters his final year before free agency and is coming off of a year that will likely result in the Cy Young Award being placed on his mantle. Scherzer went 21-3 with a sparkling 2.90 ERA, 240 strikeouts, a rate of 10.08 per nine innings, and only 56 walks in 214.1 innings.
Of course, the Tigers won’t be giving Scherzer away and the Nationals will need to gather some of their young power arms and a few power bats that could entice the Tigers. Whether what the Nationals have to offer will be enough is another question. There is enough money somewhere in Detroit to offer Scherzer a long-term deal. It might cause some financial constraints elsewhere on the team but they can afford to do it so they don’t need to trade Scherzer.
If Scherzer isn’t available and the ransom for David Price comes down, the Nationals could try and pry the former AL Cy Young Award winner away from the Tampa Bay Rays. Rumor has it the Rays are looking for a big return and the Nationals might not have the necessary pieces to land Price. Price, at this time, remains a less likely candidate to join the Nats but things change overnight in baseball.
There is also the possibility that the Nationals keep their prospects and instead go hard after Masuhiro Tanaka who should be posted by his Japanese ball club soon. Matt Garza could also be a nice addition to the Nats’ rotation as would Ervin Santana.
The Nationals are looking like they will try and fortify an already solid rotation. There should be plenty of options for them if they are willing to spend some money or part with some of their top prospects. One thing is certain at this point, the hot stove should keep D.C. warm this winter.