Early in the day Thursday, it seemed like Max Scherzer would be heading from the Nationals to the Padres.
But as the day progressed, another team ended up as the favorite for Scherzer – naturally, the Los Angeles Dodgers. And by Thursday evening, the Dodgers were not only the favorite to acquire Scherzer, they had a deal in place to acquire the former NL Cy Young winner *and* teammate Trea Turner.
If trade is completed, full package headed to Nationals for Scherzer and Turner will be C Keibert Ruiz, RHP Josiah Gray and two mid-range prospects, sources tell @TheAthletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2021
Scherzer *and* Turner to LA? That’s too much, man.
Assuming the deal happens, Scherzer will slot into a Dodgers rotation that “only” has the (squints) best ERA in baseball at 2.93 (prior to Thursday’s action). However, despite that shining mark, LA could use another starter given the uncertainty surrounding Trevor Bauer, last winter’s offseason signing. Bauer’s status for the rest of the season is a question mark thanks to the ongoing investigation he’s embroiled in.
With Scherzer in the fold, the Dodgers are now looking at a formidable rotation of (in whatever order) Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and David Price. Of those five, Price has the highest ERA – 3.63 following Thursday’s loss to the Giants. You can eventually slide Danny Duffy, acquired from the Royals on Thursday, but currently on the IL, into that mix too.
Turner’s fit in LA is far more interesting, mainly because the Dodgers already have an exceptional shortstop in Corey Seager. But he’s also on the IL right now, only playing in 37 games this season, and former top prospect Gavin Lux hasn’t adequately filled in. Turner, placed on the COVID IL earlier this week, would be a more than able replacement for Seager while he’s injured. When Seager returns, Turner could bounce over to second base – LA has used eight different players at the position this year, including Lux, super utility player Chris Taylor, and Max Muncy, stuck in something of a platoon at first base with the ancient Albert Pujols.
And while Scherzer is a free agent after the 2021 season, Turner won’t hit that benchmark until after 2022. Purely by coincidence, Seager will be a free agent after 2021 as well, perhaps opening the door for the Dodgers to let him walk with a similarly talented shortstop in-house for next season.
With 58 games remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers are clearly pushing to get out of the Wild Card game and a potential matchup with the NL’s top seed and get into….the top of the NL West standings and a potential matchup with the Wild Card game winner. LA is three games back of the Giants in the division, despite having the second best record in the National League, and the additions of Scherzer and Turner should give the team enough to challenge San Francisco for the division crown. It also keeps Scherzer away from the Padres, who currently hold the NL’s second Wild Card spot, and that homefield advantage will be huge in a one-game playoff.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Dodgers will either retain their spot as the top NL Wild Card team, let alone overtake the Giants for the division crown, but given the uncertainty surrounding Bauer, the team had to make a move. Naturally, in typical Dodgers fashion, they went all-in on this year, while also setting up a contingency plan for 2022.