Why Max Scherzer should have been an ideal Red Sox trade target originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
This is purely a thought exercise, because there are too many impediments to a deal. But there’s no reason the Red Sox shouldn’t be in the market for Max Scherzer.
One of the greatest sleight of hand that Chaim Bloom, Sam Kennedy and Co. have pulled is Jedi-mind-tricking us into believing that all they need to do by the Aug. 1 trade deadline is to tweak the roster. I’ve written it, radio hosts have said it, fans have tweeted it: Just add a back-of-the-rotation starter and maybe a reliever, hope that injured reinforcements like Trevor Story arrive, and maybe you can sneak into the final wild card.
It’s the consensus opinion because we’ve all been beaten down by the last four years of thrift-storing and coupon-clipping, but there’s absolutely no reason for it, and let’s use Scherzer as a hypothetical.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2019 World Series champion is pitching for a Mets team in disarray. New York spent Steve Cohen’s money like lottery winners, and all the Mets have to show for their $300 million payroll is a fourth-place team that’s seven games out of the wild card and 17.5 games out of first. They could very well be sellers, especially if the Red Sox take care of business at home this weekend and drop them even further below .500.
One of New York’s primary assets is Scherzer, a 38-year-old in the midst of an injury-marred campaign who’s nevertheless 8-3 with a 3.99 ERA and coming off his best start of the season with seven shutout innings of one-hit ball vs. the Dodgers. He’s scheduled to take the mound Saturday vs. James Paxton.
Scherzer has a no-trade clause, an affinity for the West Coast, and a reported desire, if moved, to join a team with a chance to win it all. The Red Sox check none of those boxes.
He’s also making $43.3 million in the middle of a three-year, $130 million contract that includes an opt-out this fall. The cost-conscious Red Sox don’t seem philosophically inclined to pay even two players that much, let alone one.
But here’s a question: Why not? Scherzer turns 39 next week and is headed to the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox possess the resources to absorb any salary for one year, and they can also afford to pay into the luxury tax, although it sure would’ve been nice if they hadn’t needlessly exceeded the threshold by just $4.5 million last year.
They need pitching, and if they want to make any noise in the playoffs, they’ll have to do better than a rotation of Brayan Bello, Paxton, and Kutter Crawford. Waiting on Chris Sale is just an exercise in willful ignorance, and there’s no telling what Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock will contribute, either, although each is proven in the bullpen.
At Scherzer’s age and salary, the Mets are in no position to demand a massive return, and they’d likely include money in any deal to land better prospects. The Red Sox are suddenly flush in young talent as they restock the farm system, which means they have more than enough to acquire an aging arm at an exorbitant price.
Landing Scherzer would only require the stomach to eat money, and judging by their plans to construct a $1.6 billion development around Fenway Park, the Red Sox aren’t destitute. They remain one of the most valuable and recognizable brands in professional sports for a reason.
He’s exactly the kind of player they would’ve once targeted, their resources allowing them to inquire on talent simply out of the reach of 90 percent of the league. Now the only clubs willing to extend themselves are the Padres, Dodgers, and maybe Rangers. Even the Yankees are cutting back. That’s called an opportunity, but the Red Sox continually prove unwilling to take it.
In any event, Scherzer is an extreme example that has no chance of happening in reality. But saying a player won’t come here because he wants a better situation and refusing to consider him because he’s too expensive are two different animals.
We shouldn’t let the Red Sox convince us the second factor is the only one that matters at all.