Inside the Clubhouse: What would a Max Scherzer trade look like?

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This week, Inside the Clubhouse looks at the potential complications of a Max Scherzer trade, the league shorting Madison Bumgarner and more.

Could this be the year the Washington Nationals entertain trading Max Scherzer?

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has not entertained trading Scherzer in the past. He held onto the right-hander while speculation circulated that he could be dealt following a 19-31 start in 2019. Of course, that patience was rewarded as the Nationals went on to win the first World Series in franchise history.

But the Nationals struggled in 2020 (26-34) and this season has been more of the same. While Juan Soto and Trea Turner have picked up where they left off, Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell — their two key offseason acquisitions — have started the season slowly. Stephen Strasburg has pitched only 15 innings since signing a $245 million deal in 2019. And they began the season with nine players on the COVID-19 injury list and are still waiting for Jon Lester to make his first start.

It is why some rival executives have pegged the Nationals (8-11) as one of the most intriguing potential sellers at the trade deadline, in large part because of Scherzer. But team owner Ted Lerner has never shown an inclination to trade his best players and trading Scherzer, who owns a 1.80 ERA through four starts, would signal the beginning of a rebuild.

Scherzer, 37 in July, would easily be the best starter available and should net the Nationals a significant haul despite becoming a free agent at the end of the season. And there should be no shortage of teams interested in the pitcher who has a 2.78 ERA in the last seven seasons and two Cy Young Awards in that span.

The St. Louis Cardinals could use another top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Jack Flaherty. The Los Angeles Angels have long had a need for an elite starting pitcher. The New York Yankees’ rotation, with the exception of Gerrit Cole, has been abysmal. Could the Padres, who have lost multiple pitchers for the season and watched Dinelson Lamet re-tweak his forearm, be a surprise player for Scherzer as they attempt to take down the Los Angeles Dodgers?

These are just a few of the many possibilities. But any potential Scherzer trade, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently outlined, would not come without complications. He has the right to veto any trade as a player with 10-5 rights. He makes $35 million this season and is also set to be paid $15 million per year from 2022-2028, a figure that would be negotiable in the event a trade is agreed to.

This all could turn out to be a moot discussion if the Nationals turn their season around. But if they don’t, the possibility of a Scherzer trade would be the talk of the trade deadline, and there should be no shortage of teams lining up for the chance to land one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.

MLB owes Madison Bumgarner a no-hitter

Madison Bumgarner threw a no-hitter, and it’s ridiculous that Major League Baseball does not count it as such.

MLB and the Players’ Association agreed to official seven-inning doubleheader games. The Elias Sports Bureau says that neither a team nor an individual pitcher will be credited with an official no-hitter in a scheduled seven-inning game of a doubleheader unless the game goes to extra innings. But counting every statistic from those two games — including Zac Gallen’s one-hitter in the first game — except the most important stat of them all makes no sense.

The Diamondbacks celebrated as if it counted as a no-hitter, doing a team TikTok dance inside their clubhouse. Bumgarner referred to it as one of the top individual moments of his career. Manager Torey Lovullo said “It’s a no-hitter for me. It will be forever.” The official team Twitter account tweeted, “It counts in our book!”

It should count in MLBs, too.

The Oakland A’s are winning with defense

An Oakland A’s executive credited their improved defense as a reason for their recent 13-game win streak.

It wasn’t like the A’s defense was that bad to start the season. They committed four errors in their first seven games. But they committed only one error during their 13-game winning streak, putting them at five on the season, the fewest in the American League and third-fewest in baseball.

There have been other factors that have led to their recent surge. They are hitting more home runs and driving in runners in scoring position, outscoring opponents 81-36 in that stretch. Chris Bassitt and Jesús Luzardo are coming into form atop the rotation while Lou Trivino has settled into his role in the ninth inning.

But A’s manager Bob Melvin has long been a proponent that good defense can help his teams win games. That has been the case during this stretch and why the A’s, despite losing Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks this offseason, are 14-8 and in first place in the American League West.

Kent Emanuel and Nick Maton are making an impact

A pair of rookies who recently got called up are already making their presence known.

Nick Maton, who was called up by the Philadelphia Phillies after Jean Segura was placed on the Injured List, is hitting .474/.500/.632 in 19 at-bats. While it is a small sample size, he may have played himself into a more prominent role on the major-league roster this season.

Maton, 24, projects as a shortstop or second baseman, but the Phillies recently asked him to take extra reps in the outfield. He could provide a spark at the bottom of the lineup while playing center field, a position the club has seen little production at this season.

Meanwhile, Houston Astros pitcher Kent Emanuel became the first pitcher since 1974 (John Montefusco) to pitch 8+ innings in relief and get the win in his MLB debut. It marked the longest relief appearance by any pitcher since Neil Allen (nine innings) in 1988.

Emanuel came in relief of Jake Odorizzi, who left with right forearm tightness. Odorizzi is undergoing further tests and it’s unclear how long he will be out. If he does miss time, however, Emanuel made a strong case to be his replacement in the rotation.

Five things I think:

  • I think we have run out of adjectives for Jacob deGrom. Elite. Special. Dominant. It just isn’t strong enough. What he is doing is simply incredible and unlike anything I have ever seen.
  • I think Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. Trevor Bauer could soon be the best rivalry inside baseball’s best rivalry, if it isn’t already, and that is only going to be a great thing for the sport.
  • Speaking of Bauer … I think his comments on Tatis celebrating each home run on Saturday could change some people’s perceptions of the outspoken right-hander .”I’m all for it,” Bauer said. “I think it’s important that the game moves in that direction and we stop throwing at people because they celebrated having some success on the field.” Well said, Trevor.
  • I think Joey Gallo has one of the most confusing stat lines in baseball. While he has walked 21 times this season (he had 29 in 57 games last season), he has 28 strikeouts and only one extra-base hit in 20 games.
  • I think free-agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez could help a team in need of pitching. He recently threw for teams again and hit 90-92 mph, as Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported, and is drawing interest from the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers.

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