With an excess of talent, the San Diego Padres have the trade chips to make a big trade. Max Scherzer would be an attractive target for the team, but is this idea feasible?
As you evaluate the 2019 San Diego Padres, there is one glaring need for the team.
The Padres need pitching. More specifically, they need starting pitching to succeed in the near future. With a staff consisting of rookie and second-year starters, there will be innings limitations on virtually all six or seven pitchers that make up the starting rotation. Next year will be a little more of the same as Chris Paddack will still be closely monitored as will young hurlers like Cal Quantrill, Nick Margevicius and Logan Allen. The Padres cannot risk damaging these arms by overworking them.
In recent months the Padres have been linked to Noah Syndergaard, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Marcus Stroman. All four pitchers are top of the order type starters that the Padres covet. Nothing has come from each potential deal. A.J. Preller is wisely waiting and not rushing things when it comes to a trade. The Padres are not structured to win now, so there is no need to blow up the farm system for major league talent just yet.
As more men were added to this highly regarded system this week via the Major League Draft, it is becoming apparent that a trade must happen eventually for this franchise. Prospects in the system are progressing, and with that, log jams of talent are starting to form in the upper minors. Something must happen. The Padres have had plenty of time to evaluate each player, and they should be prepared to move on from some of them in the future.
The Padres have one of the best farm systems in baseball. They also have one of the youngest major league teams currently. A team with so much depth can virtually make any move they want. If a potential trade partner wants major league talent, the Padres have that. If they want top prospects, the Padres have that too. This is a recipe for something special.
In an attempt to move prospects for the best player available, why not ask the Washington Nationals about Max Scherzer? He is arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball and comes with a nasty edge to him. Something that might very well benefit a young Padres staff. But the price tag would be enormous. That you can be sure of. Let’s review this idea and see if there is any shot of this happening.
Would the Nationals part with him?
Washington is off to a horrible start in the NL East. They are in fourth place in the division and already seven games behind the first place Phillies. They have played better of late, but are still six games under .500 and spinning their wheels in a competitive division. The team is still built to win now, but at some point, the Nationals might want to change gears and regroup. Anthony Rendon is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Nationals reportedly want to retain him. Signing him will cost the team well over $125 million. He is going to get paid. Perhaps the team can lighten their payroll somewhere to bring back Rendon. After losing a player like Bryce Harper, this organization cannot afford to let another homegrown star leave the Washington area.
Max Scherzer is 34 and soon to be 35 this July. Though he has been a workhorse, he is getting up there in age. The Nats have Stephen Strasburg in the rotation already, so losing Max wouldn’t cripple them entirely. They could reset and go after a potential free agent target in the rotation. Scherzer is making $42.143 million this year and is due the same amount for the 2020 and 2021 season. Though a portion of each of that year’s salary is to be deferred and paid to Scherzer through the 2028 season. His contract is hefty and complicated, and that in itself could entice the Nationals to deal him. If they continue to fall in the standings, expect Washington to entertain this idea at the very least. There isn’t a “no-trade” clause in his contract, so the team is free to do what they please with him.
What would be the cost?
The cost would hurt. There is no way around it. At this point, Scherzer is still very useful, and his price tag would not be cheap. Expect the Padres to be required to trade one or two current potential members of the rotation, plus a top prospect or two. The Padres are currently very left-handed heavy in the rotation, so Matt Strahm, Eric Lauer or Joey Lucchesi make sense as the first part of a possible deal. The Nationals would want a guy to replace Scherzer in the rotation immediately. Someone they can count on for the next two seasons. They may even require two pitchers from the Padres who have tasted major league service time.
The Padres would probably need to give major league pitching for Scherzer, but the biggest asset attained by the Nationals in a possible deal would be a prospect or two. Dealing a player like Luis Urias, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez or Logan Allen is very difficult, but there is no way that Washington just gives their ace away. To obtain Max Scherzer, the Padres would give three or four legitimate players. Young players who could blossom into something very special. But that is the cost of potentially trading for an ace.
Can the Padres pay the price?
Losing a few prospects would hurt, but the draft just took place, and the Padres are also penalty-free on the international market come July 2. They could very quickly replenish the farm system, and in all honesty, it would take multiple deals for the Padres to suffer in the prospect realm of their franchise. They have numerous young players at virtually every level. Obtaining Scherzer at the cost of some young prospects would not be a problem.
Paying the Nationals pitcher somewhere around $100 million for the next two and a half seasons is a little steep. The Padres do have money to spend as the majority of their players are young and aren’t even arbitration eligible. The money would not be an issue. Dealing young major league talent could be a problem. If the Nationals insist on a player like Hunter Renfroe, Chris Paddack or Franmil Reyes, then the Padres will have to weigh their options. There is no way that the team would risk their very favorable future. But Max Scherzer is a player that could make a real difference for this team sooner rather than later.
It all comes down to the Nationals and how well they play over the next six weeks. The team is still within striking distance to get back into the playoff race. They have shown life of late, but there are still some issues with this team that need to be addressed. Scherzer is a valuable trade chip, and obtaining him would not be easy. If the Nats consider dealing him, the Padres will surely kick the tires on this idea. From there, anything can happen.
The Padres have plenty of trade chips, and they will shoot for the stars when it comes to trade possibilities. At this point, the team has enough talent to obtain virtually any player they like. A.J. Preller will take his time and evaluate where the team’s most significant need is presently. At this point, starting pitching is one issue. That cannot be ignored. Scherzer would be a tremendous addition and would energize the clubhouse much like the addition of Manny Machado did in the spring. In time, if the Nationals fall out of the race and you hear Max Scherzer’s name in trade talks, don’t be surprised if you hear the San Diego Padres are right in the middle of discussions.