If the Washington Nationals continue to slide, and the St. Louis Cardinals bounce back like everyone expects them to, could they line up for a major trade?
The Cardinals likely do not have much room to add payroll after acquiring Nolan Arenado. But what could give them breathing room is that the Rockies (laughably) ate $51 million of Arenado’s remaining contract. And it could result in the Cardinals being players for a pitcher of the caliber of, say, Max Scherzer.
If the Nationals make Scherzer available, Bob Nightengale of USA Today expects them to be “major players” for the veteran right-hander, he told Frank Cusumano of KFNS.
Now, let’s be clear. Nightengale is not saying that the Cardinals will be in on Scherzer. He is merely connecting the dots and even on that level, a potential Scherzer trade makes a ton of sense.
The Cardinals are clearly in win-now mode, evidenced by the Arenado trade. They have a massive need in the rotation and have already said they will go to a six-man rotation to get through a 17 consecutive game stretch. Adding Scherzer wouldn’t just stabilize the rotation. It would put them squarely in the conversation with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres as the class of the National League.
Where it doesn’t make sense is that Scherzer is a free agent at the end of the year and the Nationals will still want top prospects in return. The Cardinals have not shown any willingness to part with their top prospects, even in the Arenado trade, and it’s hard to see them doing such a deal this season.
Our own Ben Remis connected these dots on Thursday before Nightengale’s report came out. As Ben saw, the connection between Max Scherzer and the Cardinals is too clear to be ignored.
But this figures to be the first of many times we hear Scherzer connected to the Cardinals. And if the Nationals continue to struggle, that buzz will only grow louder in July.