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Max Scherzer, Trea Turner Traded to Dodgers: How Blockbuster Deal With Washington Impacts LA’s Odds, Projections

Max Scherzer, Trea Turner Traded to Dodgers: How Blockbuster Deal With Washington Impacts LA’s Odds, Projections article feature image

Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Scherzer

After early reports that the Padres were on the verge of acquiring Max Scherzer, their rival Dodgers swooped in and stopped the San Diego party, reportedly acquiring the three-time Cy Young winner and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals, according to multiple reports.

At the time of publication, the deal is pending medical reports.

Scherzer brought Cy Young awards, playoff appearances and a World Series to the Washington Nationals. His final parting gift in the last year of his contract will be delivering prospects on his way out.

Even at 37, Scherzer is still one of the best starters in baseball and provides an immediate boost to the Los Angeles rotation. In 19 starts this year with Washington, he has a 2.76 ERA with 147 strikeouts in 111 innings. He started on Thursday, showing he’s healthy.

Scherzer joins Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw atop the Los Angeles rotation and takes the place of offseason signing Trevor Bauer, who remains on the commissioners’ exempt list while facing an accusation of sexual assault.

Turner, who is currently on the IL after testing positive for COVID-19, made his first All-Star team this season and is hitting .322/.369/.521 with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases. With Corey Seager due back as soon as Friday from a fractured hand, Turner is expected to play second base for Los Angeles.

To nobody’s surprise, the Dodgers were already the World Series favorites entering the day, at +380 on DraftKings and PointsBet, +400 at BetMGM and +430 at FanDuel. Los Angeles’ odds to win the NL pennant were +175 at FanDuel and +190 at FanDuel and BetMGM, and their odds to win the NL West ranged from -145 to -198 despite remaining three games behind the Giants in the division as of this writing.

As reports of the deal began getting solidified, FanDuel quickly dropped the Dodgers’ World Series odds to +330.

As part of the deal, the Dodgers sent top prospects Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz to D.C. Ruiz was the No. 39 prospect on Baseball Prospectus’ Midseason Top 50. Gray was No. 55 in their preseason Top 101.

Both top prospects are essentially major-league rest. Ruiz, a 23-year-old catcher, has gotten cups of coffee with the big-league team in each of the last two seasons. Gray, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, was originally acquired from the Reds in 2018 and made his major-league debut earlier this season with two appearances, including one start.

The Nationals are expected to receive two other mid-tier prospects as well.

Washington has always been reluctant to sell under general manager Mike Rizzo, but a recent sweep to the Orioles left him no choice with the Nats sitting in fourth in the NL East and more than 10 games out of a wild card spot.

The Nationals signed Scherzer as a free agent to a seven-year, $210 million back in 2015 and he more than lived up to his contract. He was an All-Star in all six years where the Midsummer Classic was held (it was canceled last season).

He won two Cy Young awards and finished in the top-three in voting two other times. He was the co-anchor of the World Series rotation with Stephen Strasburg, but proved to be more reliable than his teammate with at least 200 innings four different times.

Read below for more on the trade from our experts.

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Sean Zerillo’s Trade Analysis

Scherzer is likely the most valuable player that will move before this year’s deadline, and his acquisition improves the Dodgers’ “True Talent” level by 2.8 wins in my projections.

Moreover, Turner improves their projection by an additional 2.1 wins, bringing the net gain in True Talent from this trade to 4.9 wins, from 100.4 to 105.3 wins in my power rankings.

However, the trade signals that the Dodgers don’t expect to have Trevor Bauer (3.40 xERA, 3.70 xFIP, 3.46 SIERA) back anytime soon, and Scherzer (3.23 xERA, 3.37 xFIP, 2.91 SIERA) is seemingly more of a Bauer replacement than surplus quality for their starting rotation.

As a result, I’m not giving full credit to the Dodgers for the Scherzer acquisition. If the season restarted tomorrow, I would place the Dodgers (103.1 True Talent wins) well-ahead of the Padres (94.1) or Giants (82.9) in the NL West. This trade also increases their projected lead in the NL West race based upon prorated records:

Updated 2021 Projection

  • Los Angeles: 98.9 Wins (NL West Champion)
  • San Francisco: 94.2 Wins (NL Wild Card No. 1)
  • San Diego: 92.6 Wins (NL Wild Card No. 2)

The biggest obstacle the Dodgers may face from here is aligning their playoff rotation, with Clayton Kershaw (3.18 xERA, 2.92 xFIP, 3.06 SIERA), Walker Buehler (2.99 xERA, 3.58 xFIP, 3.62 SIERA), and Julio Urias (3.65 xERA, 3.59 xFIP, 3.58 SIERA) all having dominant seasons.

The Dodgers already have the best pitching staff in baseball, per xwOBA (.286, average .315), and they just added the No. 13 overall pitcher (Min 200 batters faced) in Scherzer (.279 xwOBA) to their illustrious mix. Turner (30.7 ft/sec) rates as the fastest player in baseball, and his speed on the base paths will also bring a new dimension to the Dodgers’ offense.

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