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Padres, not Dodgers, reportedly close to acquiring Max Scherzer from Nationals

On the mound, Max Scherzer delivers a pitch.
Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer gave up three hits and one run in six innings Thursday at Philadelphia.
(Laurence Ketterson / Associated Press)

The Padres may be on the verge of getting a future Hall of Famer to help their beleaguered starting rotation.

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported Thursday the club was close to a deal to acquire Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals.

One source confirmed the sides were working toward a trade for Scherzer but would not say if it was done or provide further details. Another source said other teams remained in the running for Scherzer, and the Padres were working on multiple other trades for pitchers. A third source called the report “premature.”

As of late Thursday morning, the Padres were continuing their talks with the Minnesota Twins regarding right-hander Jose Berrios.

The Padres spent part of the week trying to work a deal that would have sent first baseman Eric Hosmer and prospect Robert Hassell III to the Texas Rangers for Joey Gallo. Instead, Gallo went to the New York Yankees.

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The Dodgers need another pitcher to make a championship push and Andrew Friedman should go after the guy he missed on six years ago -- Max Scherzer.

If the Scherzer trade goes through and Hosmer is not involved, the Padres would have kept their clubhouse leader and added a pitcher with a reputation for being as dominant a presence as he is on the mound.

Scherzer, who turned 37 on Tuesday, has won three Cy Young awards and had four other top-five finishes.

He gave up one run in six innings in getting the win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, improving to 8-4 this season with a 2.76 ERA.

The Padres scored 11 runs in 10 2/3 innings against him in back-to-back starts this month. He has a 2.04 ERA in his other 17 starts.

Scherzer is in the final season of a seven-year, $210-million contract and will be a free agent after this season. The Padres were not initially in the market for a rental, but their situation changed as the expected uptick in performance from their starting pitchers has not occurred.

Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove were acquired to be the mainstays in what was projected to be among the major leagues’ best rotations. Snell has a 5.44 ERA and has gone six innings in just three starts. Musgrove threw the franchise’s first no-hitter in April and made eight quality starts, but he has a 6.24 ERA over his past five starts entering Thursday’s outing against the Rockies. Darvish has been among the league leaders in many categories for much of the season but has totaled just 13 2/3 innings and allowed 12 runs in his past three starts.

With the trade deadline on Friday, The Times provides real-time updates and analysis on all the transactions in Major League Baseball.

Wednesday’s four-inning outing by Snell was the Padres’ 47th start that did not last even five innings. That is the most, by far, of any contending team.

The team entered July thinking big picture — that their championship window is just opening — and that it would not part with any top prospects and would not trade for players not under team control for at least an additional year. But having made an offseason splash with the trades for the three pitchers and the signing of shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a record contract but still facing the prospect of playing a win-or-go-home wild card playoff game, the thinking of Padres chairman Peter Seidler, one source said, is “in for a penny, in for a pound.” As in, they are too close not to go all the way now.

Updates

2:42 p.m. July 29, 2021: This story was updated with further reporting.


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