Source: Nats finalizing deal to send Scherzer, Turner to L.A.

The Nationals aren’t just trading Max Scherzer to a National League West contender. They’re also including Trea Turner in the deal.

A blockbuster trade that will send both Scherzer and Turner to Los Angeles for four young players, headlined by the Dodgers’ two top-rated prospects (catcher Keibert Ruiz and right-hander Josiah Gray), is in the final stages of being approved by all affected parties, a source familiar with the discussions confirmed tonight.

Also included in the trade are right-hander Gerardo Carrillo (the Dodgers’ 17th-ranked prospect) and outfielder Donovan Casey.

Scherzer, who has the right to veto any trade because of his service time (10 years in the majors, the last five with the same club), has signed off on the deal, another source said. He ends his seven-year career with the Nationals with a 92-47 record, 2.80 ERA, 0.962 WHIP, 1,610 strikeouts in 1,229 innings, two of his three Cy Young Awards, two no-hitters, a 20-strikeout game and several memorable postseason performances.

Turner-Slides-into-Third-Gray-Sidebar.jpgTurner, who was pulled from Tuesday night’s game in Philadelphia after learning he tested positive for the coronavirus, was one of four players placed on the COVID-19 injured list before today’s doubleheader. Major League Baseball rules allow for players on the IL to be traded, but the Dodgers will have to wait until he has completed quarantine and tested negative multiple times before they can add him to their active roster.

Once completed, this deal will signify the full-scale rebuilding of a Nationals franchise that capped off eight consecutive winning seasons with its first World Series title in 2019 but is now in position to finish below .500 for the second straight year with an aging roster and the sport’s lowest-rated farm system.

Scherzer, the three-time Cy Young Award winner who is in the final months of the seven-year, $210 million contract that helped define the Nationals’ sustained run of success, had been expected to be traded before Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline since general manager Mike Rizzo decided to sell following at the end of a brutal July that dropped his club out of serious contention in the NL East.

But the inclusion of Turner, one of the game’s best shortstops who is under club control through 2022, caught many in the industry by surprise. Rizzo, though, had suggested he was open to trading away any of his core players for the right offer. And in Turner, he had a core player who could command even more in return than the free-agent-to-be Scherzer.

Despite some initial attempts in the last year to sign Turner to a long-term extension, the Nationals had not made significant progress. And with the market for elite shortstops exploding, Turner (who will turn 30 during the first season of his next contract) is looking at a deal that could exceed $300 million.

So Rizzo was left to decide whether to try to keep Turner during his walk year and attempt to win in 2022 with a roster that still has several gaping holes, a recovering Stephen Strasburg in only the third year of a seven-year, $245 million contract and little immediate help coming from his farm system, or sell off his best trade chip now.

The longtime GM elected to go all-in on a rebuild, packaging Scherzer and Turner together to a Dodgers club that is loading up in an attempt to win back-to-back titles following a 31-year drought.

It’ll be several years before anyone knows if Rizzo picked the right prospects, but Ruiz and Gray will instantly join 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli as the Nationals’ new top farmhands. Ruiz and Gray could very well play in D.C. this season, with Cavalli perhaps on target to debut next year.

Ruiz, 23, is a switch-hitting catcher from Venezuela who first reached Double-A at 19. He made his major league debut last summer and homered off veteran Julio Teheran in his first career at-bat. In eight games for the Dodgers over the last two seasons, he’s 3-for-15 with two homers and eight strikeouts (though he has been known in the minors for his low strikeout rate).

Gray, 23, was drafted by the Reds in 2018 and dealt to the Dodgers as part of that year’s Yasiel Puig trade. A right-hander with a mid-90s fastball, he owns a 2.41 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 228 strikeouts in 198 career minor league innings. He made his major league debut last week, giving up four runs in four innings of relief but striking out seven. He then started Sunday against the Rockies and gave up two runs in four innings, striking out six.

Carrillo, 22, excelled in the lower levels of the Dodgers system, but has been erratic his last two seasons (2019 and 2021) as he’s begun to climb the organizational ladder. This year he owns a 4.25 ERA and 1.31 WHIP while striking out 70 in 59 1/3 innings at Double-A Tulsa with a fastball that has reached 100 mph.

Casey, 25, was hitting .296 with 11 homers, 36 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and an .824 OPS this season at Tulsa, playing all three outfield positions. A right-handed hitter, he was the Dodgers’ 20th-round pick in 2017 out of Boston College.

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