I like to talk about Max Scherzer as a trade target for the Cubs, but I’ve always done it with a half-wink and a smidge of intentional meatball.
For one thing, as much as the Cubs could clearly use an impact, front-end starting pitcher like Scherzer, it’s always been debatable whether it was the right timing to give up a top prospect or three to make a rental move like that happen. For another thing, even if the Cubs were ready to do it, so many teams would have interest that it’s no guarantee the Cubs could come up with the most attractive offer. For still another thing, while Scherzer is probably still really dang good even in the post-sticky-enforcement era, it’s definitely something to monitor, especially at his age. And for still ANOTHER thing, the Nationals have a loaded roster in a winnable division and are suddenly back to .500, just 3.5 games out.
You want Scherzer on the Cubs. Obviously. It’s fun to think about. It’s almost certainly not realistic.
And it just got even more unrealistic:
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) June 25, 2021
To put it another way: if it’s actually true that Scherzer will flat-out not accept any trade unless it comes with an extension, then he’s highly unlikely to get traded, regardless of whether it’s the Cubs or some other team. Why? Because if he’s going to forgo free agency, the extension is gonna have to be AT LEAST projected market price (and probably better). Why would he extend with some new team for less than he believes he can get in free agency, where he might actually get even more money AND gets to pick where he goes?
Of course, I do have to mention the flip side, which is that if the Nationals ever did become dead-set on trading Scherzer, then what would happen is he would get to dictate where he goes (not unlike free agency), and the trade price would be massively depressed. It would be a kind of weird mini-free agency in late July, with Scherzer “accepting a trade” in the form of, effectively, signing a new free agent contract a few months before free agency actually begins.
Does that really strike you as likely to play out?
Nah. Really, really unlikely. And that’s after you’ve overcome all the other hurdles mentioned at the top. *If* Boras and Scherzer hold to their comment that they’ll require an extension to accept a trade this season, then you can all but take Scherzer off the market.
(And as soon as you do, you’ll let it creep back into your mind, and start trying to talk yourself into how the Cubs are uniquely positioned to be able to sign Scherzer to a big extension, even at age 37, for the next few years. They have the need, they have the money … )