MLB Trade Rumors: Max Scherzer, Lucas Giolito and Josh Hader highlight R.J. Anderson’s list of the top 20 players who are expected to be available at this year’s trade deadline.
The Texas Rangers look set to be buyers, and pretty much any pitcher — whether starter or reliever — who is available will likely be of interest to the Rangers. Anderson’s top four are Max Scherzer, Lucas Giolito, Jordan Montgomery and Josh Hader — three starters and a reliever — and while he doesn’t mention the Rangers as a possible suitor for all four, I have to think Texas would have interest should any of them end up on the market.
Giolito and Montgomery are both free agents after the season. While Chris Young has said that the Rangers would prefer not to go with rentals, needs must, they seem likely to be the best starting pitchers moved in July. And of course, as we saw with the Aroldis Chapman deal, it isn’t like the Rangers are committed to staying away from rentals altogether.
Montgomery has a 3.28 ERA in 98 innings over 17 starts for the St. Louis Cardinals this year, with a 3.48 FIP and a 4.02 xERA. Since the start of the 2021 season he has put up a 3.56 ERA and a 3.61 FIP between the Cardinals and the New York Yankees, though interestingly, his xERA by year has been strangely consistently higher, at 4.06, 4.00 and 4.02. Montgomery is someone who would slot into a potential Rangers playoff rotation well, and with the Cardinals 12.5 games back in the N.L. Central and vying with the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies for the worst record in the National League, they would seem likely sellers. Texas could potentially double up on Jordans with a Cardinals trade, as reliever Jordan Hicks is also a free agent at season’s end, though he has blown hot and cold this year,. Hicks has also walked 20% of the batters he has faced this year, which is cause for concern.
We have talked about Giolito as a potential trade target a fair amount already, particularly in a potential package deal with one of the various White Sox relievers. Giolito put up a 4.90 ERA last year in 161 innings, but has a 3.50 ERA so far this season. It is worth noting, however, that he had an xERA of 4.23 and a FIP of 4.06 in 2022, compared to 4.13 and 4.16 in 2023, with very similar peripherals. A week ago the ChiSox were 4.5 games back in the Central and there was talk that maybe they’d get back into the race and hold rather than sell, but they are 7 back as of today, so they are much more likely to be sellers.
Josh Hader has gotten his groove back after a difficult 2022 season, putting up a 1.11 ERA, a 1.92 xERA and a 2.49 FIP in 32.1 innings over 34 games for the San Diego Padres. His K rate has dipped and he is walking more batters, but he has allowed just one homer so far this year after giving up 8 in 50 innings in 2022, and has a .213 BABIP, compared to a .333 BABIP last year. The Padres are built to win now, but are nine games out in the West and six games out of a Wild Card berth. They could hold or buy if they have a hot July and get back into the hunt, but otherwise, Hader, as well as free agent to be Blake Snell, could be enticing for Texas.
Then there is Max Scherzer. The Mets, like the Padres, are built to win now, but find themselves a whopping 18 games back of the Braves in the N.L. East and 6.5 games back in the Wild Card. Scherzer has a player option for 2024 at $43 million, and given his age (he turns 39 in three weeks) and performance (4.03 ERA in 82 innings over 15 starts, plus a suspension for sticky stuff), one would assume he will exercise his player option. Scherzer also has a no-trade clause, so he isn’t getting traded unless he is going somewhere he wants to go.
Scherzer would seem to have negative trade value right now, given his performance level and contract, and it isn’t like the Mets are going into full teardown mode, so they could use him in their rotation next year. But...if Steve Cohen wanted to eat most of Scherzer’s salary the Mets could get a nice return.
I doubt Scherzer gets dealt, though, and if he does, I doubt it is to Texas.