With the Nationals struggling late into July, it quickly became apparent that All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer -- who's in the final year of his contract and was the best starter on the market -- would be traded.
But, moving him wasn't as easy as it seemed. On Wednesday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo joined the Sports Junkies and detailed the process it was to trade the three-time Cy Young winner.
"Max and I had constant communication because he had the no-trade clause," Rizzo said."He kind of controlled his own destiny where he wanted to go. So I was keeping him updated [with] what teams were interested, would he want to go there, that sort of thing."
Scherzer, along with All-Star shortstop Trea Turner, were ultimately traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for four prospects: Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, Donovan Casey, and Gerardo Carillo.
Scherzer had earned 10-5 rights, meaning a no-trade clause in his contract, and had specific preferences where he wanted to go. The 37-year-old wanted to stay in the NL for familiarity purposes and preferred warm weather. The Dodgers fit both of those needs.
Besides that, though, Scherzer's contract had plenty to do with discussions with teams interested. The deal he signed with Washington came with significant deferred money and the Nationals were hoping the team that would eventually be acquiring Scherzer would take on some of that salary.
"Max's contract is probably the most difficult contract to explain," Rizzo said. "It's one of the most complicated contracts that I've ever done. And, maybe one of the most complicated in the history of baseball with the deferments, the number of them, the type of them, the payoff times for them."
Rizzo did not say how much of Scherzer's contract the Dodgers ultimately took on, but he did say they took on a portion of it. The general manager said by doing so, that also impacted the players Washington received in return.
Last week, Rizzo told reporters shortly after the deadline that he had spoken with several general managers about deals for Scherzer and some including Turner as well. The club has "several renditions" of the deal they ultimately made and said there was a lot of trial and error coming up with the right package.
"This one just seemed to be the most appealing to me," Rizzo said. "It gave us the most impactful starter prospects and allowed us to reap the biggest benefits of the trade market."