3 Max Scherzer trades that could blow up the deadline

Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals

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Max Scherzer

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer will bring a Cy Young and championship pedigree to contending teams at the MLB trade deadline.

It wasn’t long ago Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer was considered untouchable and one of the best arms in baseball. At 36 years old, Scherzer is still one of the best in the game, but Washington is looking more like a seller than a buyer heading into the July 30 trade deadline.

Mad Max will draw plenty of interest from contending teams in need of some rotation help for a playoff push. In 14 starts this season, Scherzer has posted a 2.19 ERA, 0.826 WHIP and a 12.2 K/9 rate across 82.1 innings pitched.

He still looks sharp as ever, and having a three-time Cy Young award winner on your roster come October goes a long way in competing for a World Series. It would be a similar fashion of the Astros acquiring Justin Verlander in 2017.

Similar to his former teammate Verlander, getting sent to a contender would light a fire under an already fired-up Scherzer, and that would take his game to a whole other level.

3. The Cardinals will be one of the teams calling about Max Scherzer

Should they be buyers at the deadline, expect the St. Louis Cardinals (36-37) to look into a potential deal for Scherzer.

St. Louis sits 4.5 games behind the first-place Cubs. It’s not a terrible spot to be in, but it’s not great either. Hovering around .500 should keep the Cardinals optimistic they might not be too far out of a hot streak which should help their odds in what many consider to be a weak NL Central division.

The Cardinals have the fourth-worst run differential in the National League (-38), and their offense has been just as mediocre as their starting staff. They could use help in both of those departments, but should they choose to address their rotation instead, Scherzer should be first on the list.

Injuries haven’t helped as Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty are currently on the injured list. Carlos Martinez has also struggled with a plus-6 ERA over 13 starts this season. As a group, Cardinals have a 4.27 ERA (13th-highest MLB) and a 4.30 FIP (11th-highest MLB).

If they get Scherzer it’ll be for half the season, and they’ll owe a prorated portion of his $34.5 million salary in 2021. Making things a little more difficult are the other factors in Scherzer’s contract beyond this season. Even though he’ll be a free agent in 2022, there is $15 million owed each year from 2022-28. Scherzer also has a veto rights in a trade and is owed a bonus of $7.5 million in September.

It’d be unlikely a team like the Cardinals will be willing to spend a large sum of money in addition to dealing prospects. It would have to be one or the other for the Nationals.

There is one team, however, that could be willing to take on his contract.

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