Logistics behind a Cardinals-Max Scherzer trade

It's been reported that the future Hall of Fame pitcher will be made available this trade deadline.
San Diego Padres v Texas Rangers
San Diego Padres v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Recent reports have indicated that Texas Rangers' pitcher Max Scherzer may become available at the trade deadline should his team continue to fall out of the playoff picture.

Prior to games on July 8th, the Rangers sit at 42-48, 7.5 games back of the division-leading Mariners and 7.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, general managers around the league are under the assumption that the Rangers would be open to trading some of their starters. Among those candidates stands Max Scherzer.

The Cardinals are in need of a high-end starting pitcher this year. Playoff rotations are built around 3 key guys, and the Cardinals likely already have 2 such pitchers in Sonny Gray and Kyle Gibson. A player of Scherzer's ability would complete the set. He had a late start to the season due to offseason back surgery, but he has a 2.70 ERA and a 3.95 FIP in 3 starts (16.2 innings pitched). He's struck out only 11 batters, but he's also been able to limit walks.

There are some complicating factors to trading for Max Scherzer, foremost of those being his no-trade clause. With an NTC, Scherzer can veto any trade that is proposed including him. Given his age, Max would want to join a contending team with high hopes in the playoffs. While every playoff team would love more starting pitching, the contenders that are most in need include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros, and Atlanta Braves.

Each of these teams can tout a roster that is at least comparable with the Cardinals, and they've all shown more consistency recently. Scherzer played in Los Angeles for half of a season in 2021, and he had a 0.82 ERA in 11 starts for the Dodgers, so he may prefer returning to the West Coast.

With Scherzer having attended the University of Missouri and once having an interest in playing in St. Louis, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he would waive his no-trade clause to don the birds on the bat. The Cardinals would have to continue to hold a playoff spot these next few weeks to prove their worth, though.

Another complicating factor surrounding Max Scherzer's trade plausibility is his contract. He's a true rental this year, and he's owed around $6 million for the remainder of the season. Thanks to the Mets taking on the bulk of Scherzer's salary, he's not overly expensive this year. His rental status makes him affordable in terms of player capital as well.

The return package for Scherzer gets confusing; he's a true rental, but he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer who isn't overly expensive and still has plenty left in the tank. Redbird Rants' own Josh Jacobs posited a package of RHP Tekoah Roby (#5 prospect) and LHP Pete Hansen (#25 prospect). Ken Rosenthal stated on the Foul Territory podcast recently that the Cardinals may have the upper hand in some trades due to their major league talent. With injured players returning to the lineup soon, St. Louis can deal from its surplus.

The Rangers will likely want to be in contention next year after a reset this year. After all, they won the World Series last year. They won't want to wait long for prospects to rise to a level of contention. The Cardinals could offer Dylan Carlson or Ivan Herrera; they could also dip into the prospect ranks with players who are MLB-ready but are currently blocked. Think Luken Baker, Adam Kloffenstein, Sem Robberse, and Michael McGreevy here.

Max Scherzer Trade

This trade fills two holes for the Cardinals; they get a talented reliever and a reliable starting pitcher. They save their top prospects while providing opportunities for guys like Dylan Carlson and Luken Baker to possibly show what they're made of for a different team. Adam Kloffenstein's stock has risen a bit with St. Louis, and he could start immediately for the Rangers.

Max Scherzer to St. Louis is a bit of a bold proposition given the complications surrounding his contract, age, and injury history, but he would complete a triumvirate at the top of the Cardinals' rotation for the rest of the season and the postseason.