There’s a very real chance that Max Scherzer’s start at Citizens Bank Park Thursday afternoon is the final time that he’ll pitch in Philadelphia this season. If he returns again, it will certainly be as an opponent.
While there’s no evidence that the Phillies would have been players for the three-time Cy Young Award winner, ESPN‘s Jesse Rogers reports that Scherzer isn’t interested in being traded to Philadelphia or to the Houston Astros. Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported previously that Scherzer was “unlikely” to approve a deal to either New York team, the Yankees or Mets.
Because Scherzer has been in the league for 10 or more years and on his current team for five or more seasons, he has 10-and-5 rights, which amounts to a no-trade clause. So he can decide where he’s traded to before Friday’s deadline, if at all.
Common sense tells you that if the Nationals trade arguably the greatest player in the history of their franchise, they wouldn’t want to move him within the National League East, so even if Scherzer had been open to coming to the Phillies or Mets, it probably wouldn’t have been a realistic possibility.
There’s also the fact that while the Phillies are very much in the National League East race, it’s pretty hard to envision them making a World Series run, even if they acquired another front-line starter. Scherzer is 37 and can become a free agent after the season ends, so it he’s going to move now, presumably it will be to a team he feels he can win a World Series with.
But while you can make a case that Scherzer — who reportedly wants to play on the West Coast — probably doesn’t have anything personal against the Phillies, there may still be some bad blood from Joe Girardi asking for him to be checked for foreign substances on three different occasions during a game in June. (To be fair to Girardi, a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Stephanie Apstein and Alex Prewitt did suggest that someone had previously purchased foreign substances for Scherzer.)
We also don’t know exactly how Scherzer may feel about Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski led the Detroit Tigers front office that offered Scherzer a “substantial” deal that he turned down after winning the 2013 American League Cy Young Award with the team. Scherzer bet on himself and was ultimately rewarded, joining the Nationals on a seven-year/$210 million deal ahead of the 2015 season, a pact that will go down as one of the greatest signings in MLB history.