SNIDER: Trading Scherzer would be insane

Rick Snider
June 17, 2019 - 10:08 am

Denis Poroy - Getty Images


It’s one thing to lose Bryce Harper in free agency. It would be even worse to watch Anthony Rendon walk next year. But trading Max Scherzer? That’s crossing the line.

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Hopefully, speculation of the Nationals shopping their pitching ace isn’t true.

Sure, the Nats are 33-38 and probably won’t make the playoffs for the second straight year. Yes, trading Scherzer would save $30 million. And general manager Mike Rizzo denies the team is considering it.

But never believe anything or dismiss reports as fake news. Somewhere, the thought of Scherzer has crossed the Nats’ minds, and it sounds like desperation.

Scherzer rivals Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin as his team’s most beloved player. And unlike Harper, whose fandom comes despite uneven seasons that left many ambivalent over his leaving for nemesis Philadelphia, Scherzer’s departure would be a white flag over Nats Park. If lagging attendance troubles the Nats now, just watch the empty seats grow if Scherzer departs.

Few premier free agents in Washington have been worth their contracts. The Redskins’ graveyard is filled with worthless deals. The Wizards could fill a locker room with bad contracts. Even coaches have been disappointing.

But Scherzer? Now there’s a winner. He’s only 5-5 this year but would have been at least 8-2 with a little run support. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has 73 victories since arriving in 2015. He’s the leader in every respect of this team and even batted .243 last year. That’s a competitor needed in pennant races.

Gossip around baseball is the Nats might be sellers come the July 31 trade deadline if they’re not closing in on Atlanta or Philadelphia in the NL East race. Well, it’s one thing to trade pending free agents like Sean Doolittle, Howie Kendrick or Rendon. The team should have considered doing so with Harper last year if the price was right.

But the Nats have Scherzer through 2021. There’s very little another team could offer for Scherzer. Minor leaguers? Please. Draft picks – bah. Money – you must be kidding?

The rock of this team is Scherzer even if he only plays every fifth day. He’s always one to watch on the mound, at the plate and in the dugout. To trade him is to tell fans the team has given up in the short term. Likewise, it would only be fair for the fans to do the same to the Nats.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.