Reports surfaced earlier this offseason that the Washington Nationals were looking to add an “elite” starter to their rotation this winter. Naturally, the first name to come to mind was Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. Reigning Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer had been rumored to be available since the Detroit Tigers wanted to clear a rotation spot for lefty Drew Smyly, but with an all righty rotation it would make sense to add Smyly for some more balance.
The motivation behind Detroit trading Scherzer at first glance is pretty obvious. Scherzer is a Scott Boras client, and Boras prefers to let his clients go to the open market to prove their value rather than sign an extension before they hit the open market. Combine that with Miguel Cabrera being on the Tigers roster, and it’s safe to say they would not be able to afford both players as Scherzer has steadily improved every year in Detroit and Cabrera is the best right handed hitter on the planet, if not in baseball history.
Of course, that was before last night when the Tigers and Texas Rangers agreed to a deal that sent first baseman Prince Fielder and cash considerations to Texas for Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. The Rangers will finally have a power hitting first baseman they have coveted for years, and Detroit gets their long term second baseman. This will most likely move Cabrera back to first and put top prospect Nick Castellanos at third, his natural position. Detroit also frees up about $76 million in payroll, giving them the flexibility to most likely retain both Scherzer and Cabrera long term, with some money to spare.
Thus, this trade should effectively end any trade rumors involving Scherzer, and more importantly, end Washington’s pursuit of the hurler. What the Nationals need to do now is turn their attention elsewhere because there is no longer any conceivable way the Tigers trade away Scherzer. The idea never really made much sense to be honest; why would a team built to win now trade away one of their best starters simply because they cannot afford him, especially when they have essentially two more seasons of control over him, where they could win the World Series and perhaps convince him to stay for a cheaper price?
As well as Scherzer would have fit into Washington’s plans and rotation, the bottom line is this: the deal was already a pipe dream, and Washington may be better off not acquiring Scherzer because of the price he will command. Regardless, Washington needs to turn their attention elsewhere as this door is now closed.