What are the chances the Astros trade for Max Scherzer?

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Starting pitcher Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in game two of a double header at Nationals Park on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Starting pitcher Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in game two of a double header at Nationals Park on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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MIAMI, FL – JUNE 25: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals smiles in the dugout after pitching eight innings against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 25, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL – JUNE 25: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals smiles in the dugout after pitching eight innings against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 25, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

What Would Scherzer Cost?

Let’s say theoretically that Washington would consider moving him. What would the Astros have to give up to acquire Scherzer? As noted previously, they would probably have to blow the Nationals away with a rich offer to get the deal done.

The Astros might be fine with trading Kyle Tucker, but Washington already has good young talent in its outfield. The Nats would probably prefer Forrest Whitley to replace Scherzer, and that would just be the starting point. It would probably take another of the team’s top 10 prospects, plus a mid-level prospect to get close to a deal. They might also have to outbid other suitors such as the Yankees.

If the Astros are intent on keeping Whitley, it might take both Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, plus another solid prospect as well (perhaps in the top 15 prospects in the organization). But if another club is willing to offer their best prospect, the Astros would have to raise or fold.

Then there’s the issue of Scherzer’s salary. His total salary for this year and the next two years is just north of $126 million. Yes, that’s $42 million per season. A good chunk of that is deferred through 2028, but nonetheless that’s a lot of money.

The Astros are wanting to stay under the luxury tax, and picking up Scherzer’s tab could seriously jeopardize that. The Nationals would undoubtedly want a trade partner to pick up a significant portion of the money, but the Astros could be limited in that regard.