Okay, please put away the pitchforks that I know this headline persuaded you to wield. This is something that no one would really want, as we all love Max and Trea. Honestly, it is very unlikely, but if this team is well out of contention come July, it is something that Rizzo should at least look at.
We have heard that Max Scherzer will be traded at the trade deadline the last three years, and obviously that has yet to happen. So far, the deadline has come and gone without a big move happening, but this year, if the team is out of contention, the Nationals need to look at some potential deals and see if Scherzer will drop his 10-5 rights to go and chase a ring. That would automatically make Scherzer the best arm on the market and have teams tripping over themselves to get Mad Max in their rotation headed into October. This type of trade would certainly bring back some prospects, but contrary to popular belief, it is unlikely to bring a farm-changing top five prospect back.
Recently, we have seen two similar rental trades. Both Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish were moved at the deadline in 2017. The Yu Darvish trade brought back infielder Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis. Of those three, only Calhoun was a top 100 prospect in baseball, coming in at number 60, according to MLB, after the 2017 season. Alexy and Davis didn’t even crack the top 15 in the Rangers system after the trade, and that system as a whole wasn’t even a top 20 farm in baseball.
Needless to say, Calhoun was the prize, but during his time in Texas, he has yet to post a fWAR above one, and in three of his five years there, he has been a negative fWAR player. Davis and Alexy have not made it above AA since the trade.
The Justin Verlander trade was also for three prospects. This time, it was the number 41 prospect, SP Franklin Perez, OF Daz Cameron and C Jake Rogers. To date, only Rogers has seen any time in the MLB, Cameron is doing well in AAA so far in 2021, and Perez hasn’t pitched in a game since 2019 and also just underwent shoulder surgery.
As you can see, these trades are far from guarantees, but they do bring in a handful of lottery tickets. Sometimes those lottery tickets are winners, and sometimes they are busts. Letting go of the player who will likely be the first to wear the Washington Nationals hat into Cooperstown will be a hard pill to swallow, but if we are going to enter a retool/rebuild, it is these types of moves that can speed that process up.
If trading Scherzer has the chance to speed a retool up, trading Turner could put that process into overdrive. Again, these moves are not a perfect science, but the idea would be to get as many lottery tickets as possible. Right now Turner is at his highest value, and it may never be higher. There is no arguing that trading him with a year and a half of control left will return more value than trading him with three months left. Also, there is no guarantee the Nationals are able to re-sign their star shortstop, and there is also no guarantee that bringing him back would be the right move.
Turner will be 29 when he is a free agent and will likely want a contract close to $300 million. Deals like these are often headaches, and what’s the point of signing an aging shortstop when even at his peak, the team as currently constructed is not looking too great? If he is traded, the Nats would quickly have a reloaded farm with Cavalli, Rutledge, Henry, Parker, Lara, two top five international prospects from the recent signing periods in Armando Cruz and Cristian Vaquero, the 11th pick in 2021, a high pick in 2022, and the returns from these trades.
They would also still have Juan Soto to go along with A LOT of money freed up to make more moves. This again would be a hard pill to swallow, but it has to be something that the Nats think about. Maybe they can even make an extension offer in July, and if he denies that, then they can look at a potential move, but the team cannot just sit back and watch things happen anymore.
Trading Scherzer and Turner is unlikely. We know Rizzo doesn’t give up, and we love him for that. Who knows? Maybe this team will go on a hot streak and we’ll be laughing at this article in October. However, if this team does not turn this around here in the next month, it would be wise to look at possible moves and get the Nationals back to the top sooner rather than later.