MLB Trade Rumors: Max Scherzer to the Nationals?

Brad White

Alex Kantecki looks at the likelihood of the Tigers trading right-hander Max Scherzer, and the possible fantasy fallout.

Yesterday, Ray brought up the possibility of the No. 1 free agent in baseball, Robinson Cano, signing with the Washington Nationals. But could another big name soon be calling the nation's capital his home?

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are actively searching for an elite starting pitcher to add to a staff already anchored by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and 19-game winner Jordan Zimmermann. Rosenthal hears the Tigers are in "listening, not shopping" mode, and suggests Max Scherzer as a perfect fit for Washington.

We've seen rumors of the Tigers dangling Scherzer in the past, and it's no rumor that Detroit seeks young power arms in the bullpen after falling short of a World Series title two years in a row. But would Detroit seriously entertain trading the favorite to win the American League Cy Young? As we saw last offseason, the Mets were able to acquire a lot -- including top catching prospect Travis d'arnaud -- in exchange for their own Cy Young award winner, R.A. Dickey. But Dickey, 39, is no Scherzer, 29.

Where it starts to make some sense from Detroit's point of view is that Scherzer is one year away from free agency. As a Scott Boras client, Scherzer will demand top dollar on the free agent market, and that's something the Tigers may balk at with price-heavy investments to Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder, in addition to Miguel Cabrera's contract expiring after 2015. The Nationals could offer once-upon-a-time closer Drew Storen among other bullpen pieces (Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen), but those guys collectively wouldn't be enough for a 21-game winner.

While a match with the Nationals isn't likely, in my opinion, I think the name you have to keep a close eye on throughout any Scherzer trade talk is southpaw Drew Smyly. A strong season from the always frustrating, up-and-down Rick Porcello, who also makes some sense as a trade candidate, kept Smyly from making an impact in the starting rotation in 2013. But an open spot in Detroit's rotation would likely mean an opportunity for Smyly, who owns a 3.29 ERA and a 175:50 K:BB ratio in 175 1/3 career innings.

Scherzer will retain elite fantasy value wherever he calls home, but a starting role for Smyly could be the biggest fantasy fallout from a trade.

For more on the Tigers, check out Bless You Boys, SB Nation's Tigers fan site. And for more on the Nationals, check out Federal Baseball.

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