Dodgers’ trade for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner is complete
The Dodgers completed their blockbuster trade for pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner on Friday, acquiring the Washington Nationals stars for their top two prospects and two other minor leaguers.
The deal, which should greatly enhance the Dodgers’ chances of winning their ninth straight National League West title and second straight World Series, will send triple-A catcher Keibert Ruiz, big league pitcher Josiah Gray, double-A outfielder Donovan Casey and double-A pitcher Gerardo Carrillo to the Nationals.
The Dodgers announced the move right at Friday’s 1 p.m. trade deadline.
In Scherzer, who is in the final year of a seven-year, $210-million contract that pays him $34.5 million this season, the Dodgers get a three-time Cy Young Award winner who helped the Nationals win the 2019 World Series and is 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 19 starts this season.
Just when it looked like a division rival would make the biggest splash at the trade deadline, Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers came through again.
The Dodgers added another ace to pair with Walker Buehler while bolstering a thin rotation. As an added bonus, they outbid their division rivals, the first-place San Francisco Giants and third-place San Diego Padres, for the 37-year-old right-hander.
There were reports on Thursday that the Nationals were close to a deal that would send Scherzer to the Padres.
Turner is batting .322 with an .890 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 18 homers, 17 doubles and 49 RBIs in 96 games this season. He was placed on the COVID-19 inactive list Thursday and can’t join the Dodgers until he completes mandatory quarantine and tests negative for the coronavirus multiple times.
The deal puts shortstop Corey Seager’s future with the Dodgers in doubt. Seager, out since mid-May because of a right hand fracture, is expected to be activated during this weekend’s series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Turner can play center field and second base, as well as shortstop, in the short-term.
But the 28-year-old Turner, who is making $13 million this season and is under club control through 2022, would be a premier replacement if the Dodgers allow Seager to leave as a free agent this winter.
The speedy Turner has a career .300 average, .890 OPS and 192 stolen bases and has been worth seven wins above replacement over the last two years, according to FanGraphs, a number that trails only Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. among position players.
Scherzer reportedly preferred to be traded to one of the three NL West contenders, and there was little doubt the Nationals would deal him because they are 47-55 and 7½ games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets entering Friday’s games.
The clock is ticking on the Dodgers’ divisional dominance, and Andrew Friedman knew it when he pulled off the most important trade of his career.
Scherzer was scratched from last Saturday’s start against Baltimore with right triceps soreness, but he started the first game of a doubleheader against Philadelphia on Thursday and pitched well, giving up three hits and one run in six innings. Scherzer threw 88 pitches, 56 for strikes, and his fastball was consistently at 94-95 mph.
After Thursday’s outing, but before the trade appeared imminent, Scherzer was contemplative about his time in Washington.
“This is where my family started,” he said. “I came here without kids, now I’ve got three kids. It’s been a very fun experience for me being in D.C. What can you say about the fans? That’s where that championship will always mean something to all of us.”
Scherzer was also braced for a trade.
“I don’t want to look at this as a negative thing, I really look at it as a positive thing,” he said. “I signed a seven-year deal here to win a World Series. And we won a World Series. That’s a lifelong dream come true.”
Trading for a starting pitcher was paramount for the Dodgers because Trevor Bauer, their big winter free-agent signing and the highest paid player in baseball, isn’t expected to pitch again this season after a woman accused him of sexual assault in late June. Bauer has been on paid administrative leave since July 2.
Dustin May suffered a season-ending elbow injury in early May. Clayton Kershaw has been sidelined since July 7 because of left elbow inflammation, but he is expected back late next week, giving the Dodgers a rotation of Buehler, Scherzer, Kershaw, Julio Urias and either Tony Gonsolin or David Price.
Scherzer is 183-97 with a 3.17 ERA over 14 seasons. Though he turned 37 on Tuesday, he has shown few signs of slowing, giving up only 71 hits in 108 innings while notching 147 strikeouts this season. He would be in line to make his first start against the Houston Astros on Tuesday or Wednesday in Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers’ roster now includes seven Cy Young Awards among Scherzer, Kershaw and Price as well as six most valuable player awards among Albert Pujols, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Kershaw.
Ruiz, a 23-year-old switch-hitter, was the Dodgers’ top-rated prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He is more advanced offensively than defensively, combining elite contact skills with power to hit .311 with a 1.012 OPS, 16 homers and 45 RBIs in 52 games for triple-A Oklahoma City this season. He’s hit two homers in 15 at-bats for the Dodgers over the last two seasons.
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Gray, 23, a converted shortstop, was a second-round pick of the Reds in 2018. He combines a lively 95-mph fastball with a mid-80s power slider and an upper-70s curveball.
Gray, the team’s second-ranked prospect, was limited by a shoulder impingement to four triple-A games this season and made one start for the Dodgers in place of Kershaw.
The contracts of Scherzer and Turner will add about $16.3 million to the Dodgers’ payroll for competitive balance purposes and bring the team’s CBT payroll to $262 million, according to Cots Contracts, well over the $210-million luxury-tax threshold.
Since the Dodgers remained below the luxury-tax threshold in 2020, they are considered “first-time offenders,” so they will have to pay a 20% tax on all overages.
But a club that exceeds the threshold by $20 million to $40 million is also subject to a 12% surtax, and one that exceeds the threshold by more than $40 million is taxed at a 42.5% rate.
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