The Washington Nationals may have a dilemma on their hands when July's trade deadline arrives.
Do they move on from ace Max Scherzer?
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says the idea is not one that's currently on the table.
"We’re certainly not thinking about that right now," Rizzo recently told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "We control the best pitcher in baseball for 2 1/2 more years - three playoff runs. He’s extremely well-priced. If you look at his contract, he’s extremely, extremely well-priced. We would have to command something that would be franchise-altering to consider moving him."
The idea of trading one of baseball's best pitchers might seem bizarre under normal circumstances, but the Nationals are in the midst of a subpar season, sitting fourth in the National League East with a 33-38 record.
Moreover, moving Scherzer in the future could prove more difficult. The veteran hurler will gain full no-trade protection as a 10-and-5 player - 10 years of service time, five consecutively with the same organization - at the end of the season, Rosenthal adds. Until then, the right-hander doesn't enjoy any trade protection.
"I have zero control over that. It means nothing to me," Scherzer told Rosenthal on Saturday. "I’m here to win here. I have too much to worry about, trying to pitch and prepare every fifth day. Why (expend) any mental capacity on it at all when it’s completely out of my control? If we turn the corner here and win, we don’t even have to talk about it."
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner (two with Washington), only owns a 5-5 record this season but still leads the NL in strikeouts and boasts a 2.81 ERA and 2.28 FIP.
The 34-year-old is under contract until 2021, earning $35 million annually plus an additional $105 million in deferred payments from 2022-2028, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.