The National League East is about to get weaker, as the Washington Nationals are “finalizing” a deal to send three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers, per ESPN‘s Jeff Passan.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes that once all medical information is processed, the Nationals will acquire catcher Keibert Ruiz, RHP Josiah Gray, RHP Gerardo Carillo and left fielder Donovan Casey. MLB Pipeline says that Gray and Carillo were the top two prospects in the Dodgers system, and the No. 41 and 42 in baseball.
For his final act as a National, Scherzer pitched six innings of one-run ball in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday afternoon. Scherzer outdueled Zack Wheeler, with the Nationals defeating the Phillies 3-1, further clouding the playoff picture for Dave Dombrowski and company.
Despite turning 37 earlier this week, Scherzer remains one of baseball’s best pitchers, as he has a 2.76 ERA in 111 innings in 2021. He’ll join a rotation with another three-time Cy Young Award winner in Clayton Kershaw, not to mention Walker Buehler and Julio Urías.
Meanwhile Turner — who inexplicably never made an All-Star team until 2021 — is having a monster season, slashing .322/.369/.521 with 18 home runs, 49 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and a 4.2 fWAR. He can’t become a free agent until after the 2022 season, making it perhaps likely that the Dodgers let last year’s World Series MVP Corey Seager reach free agency this upcoming offseason. In theory, Seager could be a target of the Phillies if they move Didi Gregorius to another position or trade him. In the meantime, it appears Turner will shift to second base.
Earlier in the day, reports indicated that Scherzer was getting close to being traded to the San Diego Padres. Now, if one of the Padres or Dodgers is unable to usurp Gabe Kapler’s San Francisco Giants in the National League West, it’s entirely possible that Scherzer could end up facing the Padres in the Wild Card Game.
The Phillies will be happy to get Scherzer out of the National League East, as he has a 14-4 record with a 2.55 ERA in 24 career starts against them. Scherzer began his career in Arizona and won an American League Cy Young Award with the Detroit Tigers in 2013, but the overwhelming majority of his career success has come with the Nationals, often at the expense of the Phillies. The seven-year/$210 million deal that Scherzer signed with the Nationals ahead of the 2015 season — a pact that will expire at the end of this season — will go down as one of the greatest free-agent signings in MLB history.
Though there was no indication that the Phillies made any sort of push for the eight-time All-Star, ESPN‘s Jesse Rogers reported that the Phillies weren’t a team that Scherzer was willing to waive his no-trade clause to come to. Rogers added the Houston Astros to that list as well, with Jayson Stark of The Athletic suggesting earlier this week that the veteran righty didn’t have much interest in doing so to join either New York team. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported previously that Scherzer hoped to head to the West Coast, and that appears to have been true.