LOS ANGELES — Cross Max Scherzer off the Cubs’ wish list for the trade deadline.
Even if the surging Nationals make their ace available by the July 30 deadline, he will come at a price tag the Cubs have shown no appetite to pay.
Miguel Amaya or any of their other top prospects?
Sure. And then a multi-year extension for the three-time Cy Young winner, who turns 37 next month.
That’s what Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, said it will take for the future Hall of Famer to waive his full no-trade rights to go to Chicago or anywhere else.
“The reality of it is it’s going to have to lead to something,” Boras told NBC Sports Chicago.
That means an extension, he said.
“And the reality of it is a ton of people are going to ask,” Boras added. “He’s probably the most coveted trade chip I’ve seen, because every team that’s in it needs him.”
Scherzer, who finished in the top five in Cy Young voting every year from 2013 to 2019, is the rare pitcher who has outperformed a long-term free agent contract — with a 2.19 ERA and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings so far in this final season of his seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nats.
The Cubs already were considered long shots to compete for him as a rent-a-pitcher at the deadline for the high price in player capital the Nats would expect to command in a seller’s market.
And with the price of even a two- or three-year extension on top of that?
This big-revenue team isn't willing to pay market rates to extend their own All-Stars and former MVPs, who are almost 10 years younger.
On the other hand, the Nationals are riding a surge of good pitching — and Kyle Schwarber’s hot bat — to a 10-1 run through Thursday that boosted their record to .500 for the first time since May 2 and has them in second place in the National League East.
They’re 3 1/2 games out of first place (6 1/2 behind the final wild-card spot).
They haven’t been over .500 since winning their season opener. But if they keep this up, the same team that came back from a 19-31 start in 2019 to win the World Series could be buyers themselves by this time next month.
A 17-game stretch starting Monday against the Mets, Rays, Dodgers, Padres and Giants could determine their direction.
Either way, the Cubs figure to be looking elsewhere for pitching.