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SF Giants: Building a Max Scherzer trade with the Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws the first pitch of the season against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws the first pitch of the season against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
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SF Giants, Max Scherzer
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 18: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on July 18, 2021. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

SF Giants trade rumors: A Max Scherzer contract extension

If the Giants and Nationals can agree to a trade for Scherzer, the deal would still have to jump one more hurdle: Scherzer’s no-trade clause. Would the righty block a trade to a legitimate World Series contender? Probably not. However, he and the Giants might have a mutual interest in working out an extension before he approves the deal. San Francisco has none of their current starting pitchers under contract for next season and an immense amount of payroll flexibility. Given Scherzer’s advanced age, he would probably like to secure some guaranteed money as soon as possible.

With that said, a client of notorious agent Scott Boras, it would be a surprise to see Scherzer accept any significant discount in exchange for long-term security. The fact remains that Boras will likely aim to make the Nationals ace one of the highest-paid pitchers in the world. Of course, Scherzer turned 37 this week. Teams, including the Giants, might be tentative to make a huge long-term commitment to one of the oldest active players in MLB.

If there’s a team that can afford to take a risk with payroll, however, it should be the Giants. Easily one of the wealthiest franchises in the league, San Francisco’s ownership has benefitted from significantly lower payrolls in the first years of Zaidi’s tenure. As they look to return to the pinnacle of the league, their payroll should rise as well.

As more players have shown the ability to be productive late into their thirties, more big league front offices have shown a willingness to play proven veterans top dollar on short-term deals. If the Giants do ink Scherzer to an extension, it will likely follow a similar model. Boras might insist on setting a record for the largest average annual value for a pitcher, which could lend itself to a one-year, $40 million contract. Still, I would expect things to move towards a three-year, $80 million deal that includes a club option for a fourth year.

The Giants have shied away from spending a premium under Zaidi. However, Scherzer’s no-trade clause gives him a significant amount of leverage. The Padres, Dodgers, and Giants are competing with one another in their division. All three are reportedly acceptable spots to Scherzer. If the Giants have a deal in place, Boras could threaten to invoke the no-trade clause and find a deal with the Dodgers or Padres instead.

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Will the SF Giants find a way to acquire Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer? With three division rivals interested in the 37-year-old righty, the market could get pricey in terms of prospects and a long-term contract. We’ll see if Farhan Zaidi can get it done.

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