Tomase: Scherzer probably isn't coming to Boston, and here's why originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Don't hold your breath on Max Scherzer coming to Boston.
The Nationals right-hander would certainly make an impact in the Red Sox rotation, but there are more factors working against a deal than for it, and Red Sox fans would be wise to turn their attention elsewhere in advance of Friday's MLB trade deadline.
First and foremost is that the Red Sox may not even have a say in the matter. Scherzer can veto any trade because of his 10-and-5 rights, and conversations with multiple major league sources suggest he has a clear preference to play for a contender on the West Coast. Last we checked, Boston only fulfills one of those criteria, which makes a deal here a potential non-starter no matter what Chaim Bloom and Co. put on the table.
It's not as if the Nats won't have options. Scherzer could alter the course of the race in the National League West by going to the Giants, Dodgers, or Padres. All three clubs boast deep farm systems, all three own legitimate World Series aspirations, and the Dodgers and Padres, at least, have made it clear over the last year that money will not impede their quest for a title. It's doubtful the Red Sox could compete with either of them in terms of how far they're willing to extend themselves -- financially or prospects-wise.
Speaking of finances, for better or for worse, they're real. We've already seen the Yankees trade effective reliever Luis Cessa to the Reds to facilitate a salary dump of ineffective reliever Justin Wilson, all in an apparent attempt to save $1.3 million and remain below the $210 million luxury tax threshold. There's no way to describe this deal except as disgraceful, and we've already laid out the ludicrousness of multi-billion-dollar organizations with a chance to win declining to spend because they fear "penalties" of $5 or $10 million.
It's not clear where the Red Sox will fall on this spectrum, though they're pretty much butting against the threshold already. Per multiple sources, they're open to deals that would take them beyond $210 million. For luxury tax purposes, whichever club acquires Scherzer would be on the hook for roughly $10 million this year (though nothing in real money, as Ken Rosenthal recently detailed in The Athletic).
The Red Sox can afford $10 million, especially for a pitcher with Scherzer's big-game track record, but perhaps they envision an alternate use of their cash and prospects, spreading them across needs at first base, the bullpen, and perhaps for a lesser starter.
And that brings us to prospects. The Padres (sixth), Giants (11th), and Dodgers (14th) each rank in the top half of MLB.com's organizational farm system rankings. Despite strides in the first two years of the Bloom regime, the Red Sox opened the season at No. 24. They only have so many players to deal, particularly if you assume that first baseman Triston Casas and outfielder Gilberto Jimenez aren't going anywhere. Do they attempt to surpass whatever the three NL West clubs can offer and not only limit their ability to acquire anyone else, but also harm future seasons, just to obtain a couple of months of Scherzer before he hits free agency?
Or do they retain their best prospects and turn their attention to potential difference-makers who shouldn't bankrupt the system? Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, for instance, is in the midst of a so-so season and almost certainly won't receiver a qualifying offer from Chicago this fall. That makes the Cubs motivated sellers who know they're unlikely to receive a massive haul for the former All-Star and Gold Glover.
He'd address a huge hole in the Red Sox lineup and cost roughly $5.5 million for the rest of the season. With whatever prospects and money remain, Bloom could then hunt for a bullpen arm and maybe a cheaper starter to pair alongside the returning Chris Sale.
All of those moves are easier to pull off than making a play for Scherzer. This trade deadline is primarily setting up as a buyer's market, but the three-time Cy Young Award winner represents the glaring exception.
Since there's no guarantee he'd even approve a deal to Boston, the Red Sox should turn their attention elsewhere, and you should, too.