The Texas Rangers addressed one of their biggest needs today trading for three-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer. The trade is Max Scherzer and over $35 million for top prospect shortstop Luisangel Acuna. The 39-year old is not the Max Scherzer of 10 years ago or even five years ago. He is still a really good starter that has a lot of postseason experience and will likely pitch in the top half of this rotation. This trade does present three questions and I will try my best to give answers to these questions.
Is this a good trade for the Texas Rangers?
The Rangers desperately needed a starting pitcher and that was before it was announced prior to Saturday's game that Nathan Eovaldi would miss another start with elbow issues. Bochy said they are not concerned and that there are no structural issues. Reminder they said the same thing about deGrom prior to him needing Tommy John. Right now it is just elbow soreness for Eovaldi.
Scherzer will enter a rotation that is in desperate need of someone who can give the team solid innings. In his last five starts he has went at least six innings in four of those starts. The offensive numbers allowed are up across the board. The walks per nine, hits per nine, and home runs per nine are all up. That is not good. He still has struck out 121 batters and walked 30. The question becomes under Mike Maddux once again and pitching for a contender is there another level he can take his game to that will help this team the rest of the season?
The one aspect I think we can all agree upon is that having to only send out Luisangel Acuna is quite the steal. Acuna was one of the Rangers' top prospects, but with Duran filling that utility now and in the future and Corey Seager and Marcus Semien signed long term there just was not a place for him to play. Acuna will now go to New York and play in the same division as his brother and possibly have a chance to contribute as soon as next season. He goes from a team where there was no opportunity to one where he may get an opportunity in the near future.
The final aspect of the trade was the financial component. Scherzer is still owed 14 million this season and since he opted into next season he is owed $43.3. million. He is owed in total around $57 million the rest of his contract. The Mets have agreed to cover the entire amount except for 22.5 million. Jeff Passan tweeted this out on Saturday night.
He will be a Texas Ranger through the 2024 season. That was seemingly the hardest obstacle to clear for the Mets and Rangers in this trade. It was reported that Max wanted to keep his player option and that the teams could not agree on a salary amount that the Mets would take on. They cleared those obstacles and the trade was finalized.
It is hard to say that this was not a good trade. Acuna will be a good major league player long after Max is gone and fans may regret the team trading him. Chris Young would make this trade 10 times out of 10. Now it is up to Max to come here and be the dominant starter that he has been throughout his career.
Where does Max slot in and who is sent out?
Right now, Max will probably slot in alongside Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation. Scherzer last started on Friday night and so he would be able to go again anytime after Wednesday. My prediction is he will make his first start for the Rangers on Friday night against the Marlins. That means Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and then Dane Dunning will pitch against the White Sox. Scherzer will then start against the Marlins with the hope that Eovaldi will then be able to go on Saturday.
That would mean Martin Perez is moved to the bullpen. Perez has had his struggles this season. He struggled once again on Saturday night allowing four second-inning runs against the Padres. The Padres had nine hits against him. His command has been an issue all season as is his inability to strike batters out. Perez this season does have eight wins, but also a 4.98 ERA.
He has certainly regressed from his 2022 season. One crucial aspect that has seen the most regression is quality starts. He was a machine last season in that category. He had 23 quality starts in his 32 starts made. That means 23 times last season he went six innings or more and allowed three or fewer runs. This season that number is eight quality starts in the 20 starts he has made.
Perez earned his qualifying offer last season, but he is not pitching up to the standard he set for himself in 2022. Moving Perez to the pen will allow the team to move Cody Bradford back to Triple-A and allow him to get back to starting games and be able to pitch on a regular schedule. Perez can then pitch in that role that Jake Odorizzi was supposed to pitch as a swing man.
Does this trade keep the Rangers from making other trades before the deadline?
This trade while a blockbuster still only contained one top five prospect. The Rangers still have plenty of assets to go and trade for one or two relievers or a bat. We still have a lot of time before the deadline at 5pm central time on Tuesday. I fully expect that Chris Young will still be on the phone trying to acquire more pieces to help this team.
The Rangers are all-in now on this season. They would not have traded for Scherzer if they were not wanting to go for it this season. I think this opens up the door for other players such as St . Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks, Colorado Rockies reliever Brent Suter, Washington Nationals reliever Hunter Harvey, Detroit Tigers reliever Alex Lange, or San Diego Padres reliever Josh Hader. They have the assets and the wallet to be able to go and acquire the pieces that Chris Young thinks they need.
The team has one more game in San Diego after tonight and then a day off and resume play two hours after the deadline on Tuesday. This team could have a brand new look by that time and will hopefully be set to go on a run that will take them through to October.