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Bereft Of Blockbuster Trades, Max Scherzer Will Have To Suffice

3:36 PM EDT on July 30, 2023

Max Scherzer #21 of the New York Mets looks on during the fifth inning of a spring training game against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 18, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Now that Shohei Ohtani is destined to disappoint the nation by being a Los Angeles Angel for the immediate future, baseball's trade deadline has been reduced to a search for the brightest of lesser lights, and we may have stumbled upon the clubhouse winner with two days of rumor-inflating remaining.

That would be Max Scherzer, the superannuated pitcher who was moved from the desiccated New York Mets to the very alive Texas Rangers in exchange for the younger brother of Ronald Acuna, Jr., a deal the Mets were so desperate to make as one of the terms of their surrender that they even promised to cover 60 percent ($35 million) of Scherzer's remaining $58 million salary. This was a requirement the Rangers needed to keep them under the tax line because, well, there's going for it, and then there's going for it on a budget.

Scherzer is a big name, to be sure, but he is currently a big name mostly because he is big in the market; the Rangers are his fourth team in two seasons. He was part of Washington's ongoing capitulation in 2021, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Trea Turner for a package that included Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray and two minor leaguers. Now, after having signed with the Mets in hopes of making them a bit less Pinocchioid, he is being shipped out again to see if he can stabilize the Rangers' starting rotation.

And now that the St. Louis Cardinals have announced that they will not trade Nolan Arenado to the Dodgers or anyone else, it would seem that Scherzer is going to be the gaudiest bauble to be pawned this summer. This assumes that the Mets cannot also find a taker for Justin Verlander, but even there it is hard to separate him and Scherzer as impact acquisitions.

Either way, this will not be a dynamic summer for relocated stars because Ohtani obliterates all other discussions on any baseball subject. When Angels general manager Perry Minasian pulled Ohtani out of the garage sale, the entire deadline seemed to sag, and until yesterday the biggest name was Lucas Giolito (to the Angels from the White Sox). In short, Minasian tried to substitute the nation's curiosity with the mildly amusing notion of the Angels going for it all from their menacing perch in eighth place, five games behind the final wild card spot and 9 1/2 games behind those wacky Baltimore Orioles.

But Minasian's satisfaction (his decision is both sensible and defensible on every level save voyeurism) hardly substitutes for the knowledge that the trade deadline has been reduced and shrink-wrapped into watching the Cardinals, Mets, Tigers and White Sox putting down lawn signs, and nobody's canceling a trip to the lake, mountains or mall for that. Minasian's satisfaction, admirable though it might be for Angels fans, still kind of, well, sucks for everyone else.

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