There have been several moves in the week leading up to MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline, and now the Texas Rangers and New York Mets are getting in on the action.
In an attempt to increase their World Series odds, Texas has struck a deal to acquire veteran starting pitcher Max Scherzer from New York. The Rangers will also receive cash considerations to cover a portion of Scherzer’s contract. In return, the Mets will receive infield prospect Luisangel Acuña.
Scherzer is an eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young award winner. He continues to impress in his age-39 season, amassing a 3.65 xERA, 10.11 K/9, and 2.51 BB/9. However, he has struggled to limit loud contact. He has surrendered 1.92 HR/9 and owns a 16.2 percent HR/FB rate, both of which are the highest marks of his career.
Nevertheless, Scherzer is an advanced pitcher who will offer an invaluable veteran presence to the Rangers down the stretch. Texas currently leads the AL West with a 60-44 record and will benefit from inserting Scherzer into its rotation, especially after losing Jacob deGrom to Tommy John surgery earlier this summer.
Speaking of deGrom, the Rangers now have a significant amount of money allotted to their rotation through 2024. Next season, deGrom, Scherzer (player option), Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, and Andrew Heaney (player option) will combine to make more than $117 million.
As for the Mets, landing a prospect like Acuña, the brother of Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr., could pay dividends long-term. The 21-year-old is a talented infielder who has shown production with both his glove and bat. He is a smooth defender with enough range and arm strength to stick at shortstop long-term, though he could also become a solid center fielder with the right development. Offensively, the results speak for themselves: he owns an .830 OPS, 9.2 percent walk rate, 18.9 percent strikeout rate, and 42 stolen bases at Double-A this year.
Acuña is on pace to reach Triple-A later this season and the majors in 2024, but he might not be the Mets’ immediate everyday shortstop given the club’s depth at the position. Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil aren’t going anywhere, and highly-regarded prospect Ronny Mauricio could make his MLB debut very soon.
This trade ultimately offers a copious amount of insight into how the Rangers and Mets might operate as the trade deadline looms.
For Texas, the goal is clear: win now. This was apparent during the club’s recent offseason spending spree and remains just as obvious with Scherzer in tow. While today’s deal is probably the biggest one they’ll make prior to the deadline, they’re not done. Look for the Rangers to patch up other holes on their roster in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Steve Cohen won’t let the Mets completely wave the white flag, but this trade does help to chalk up 2023 as a failure for the club. By flipping an expensive, aging hurler for a flashy, young prospect, New York’s focus is on 2024 and beyond — retooling rather than rebuilding, as they say in the industry.
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