Nats could be in mix for Price & Scherzer

Nats could be in mix for Price & Scherzer
November 6, 2013, 9:45 am
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With a vacancy in their rotation, the Nationals have several avenues they could go to find a starting pitcher this offseason. They could promote from within, banking on the emergence of either Taylor Jordan or Tanner Roark. They could also sign a free agent as they’ve done for two consecutive seasons, first bringing in Edwin Jackson, then signing Dan Haren for 2013.

Or, if the Nationals really want to make a splash, they could orchestrate a trade. And this offseason just so happens to have two big names on the market that could be attainable.

Both David Price and Max Scherzer are expected to be traded by their respective teams this winter. Price won the AL Cy Young award in 2012 and Scherzer is a frontrunner to win the nod this season. Scherzer has one more year left on his deal with the Tigers, while Price is under team control in Tampa through 2015. Both are top shelf starting pitchers and both will carry a heavy price of prospects.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says the Nationals are legitimate contenders in the trade market for an ace and could be a realistic landing spot for either Price or Scherzer. Their rotation wasn’t as strong in 2013 as they hoped it would be, they have an impressive range of prospects within their farm system, and Nats general manager Mike Rizzo acknowledged they may be more likely to make a trade this offseason to reporters back in September.

Scherzer also has a connection to Rizzo. The right-hander was Rizzo’s last first round pick as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Scherzer has since developed into an elite pitcher and could reunite with the man who helped scout him as a young player.

Scherzer is also a client of Scott Boras, a man Rizzo has a good relationship with. Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are just a few of Boras’ clients on the Nats whom Rizzo has already negotiated to sign. That would bode well for a longterm deal if it comes to it.

Price is more valuable given his contract, and because of that could carry a higher price tag. The Rays are also very high on blue chip prospects given their success depends on them. To acquire a player from Tampa, it usually takes a team’s best overall prospects, the closest they can get to sure things.

What puts the Nationals in the conversation is their restored farm system. The Nats’ pool of young talent took a hit over the last two seasons because of trades. To bring in Gio Gonzalez, Washington gave up four of their best prospects. And last year they shipped top pitching prospect Alex Meyer to Minnesota for Denard Span.

But with the breakout seasons of Jordan and Roark, coupled with the improved health of some former top draft picks, the Nats are now with a bit of a surplus, at least when it comes to young pitching. For a team that wants to win now, will they opt for a proven commodity over guys that could potentially end up being very good pitchers?

Two years ago the Nationals had Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone and A.J. Cole and everyone thought their futures were bright. Milone is a serviceable starter out in Oakland, but the other are two are still searching for success in professional baseball. And since that trade, Gonzalez has finished second in NL Cy Young voting and made his third All-Star game.