CHICAGO (AP) — Shohei Ohtani won’t be dealt at the trade deadline, and Max Scherzer is already on the move. The Texas Rangers are all-in, the St. Louis Cardinals are selling off, and the New York Mets are dismantling at least some of the most expensive roster in the sport’s history.
In the hours ahead of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. EDT trade deadline, plenty of questions remain.
After covering roughly $35 million to send away Scherzer, will Mets owner Steve Cohen eat more salary off Justin Verlander’s contract in exchange for a greater prospect haul? And what about the crosstown Yankees, a team four-games over .500 yet stuck in last place in the AL East?
The Baltimore Orioles lead that division by 1 1/2 games, and with one of baseball’s deepest farm system, they’re well positioned to leverage that youth for an impactful addition. In the National League, the division-leading Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers have already made some additions and could add more to aid their October aspirations.
Verlander is likely to be the top target, assuming the Mets are really willing to part with him. After dealing Scherzer to Texas on Sunday, general manager Billy Eppler insisted New York was not tearing down its underachieving team, which at one point had a projected payroll of $365 million.
“I do want to be clear that it’s not a rebuild. It’s not a fire sale,” Eppler said Sunday at Citi Field. “It’s not a liquidation.”
Yet there’s significant buzz that Verlander — a 40-year-old right-hander with three Cy Young Awards and 250 career victories — could be shipped out. He is signed through next season with a potential option for 2025 after agreeing to an $86.7 million, two-year contract in December. New York covered a significant portion of Scherzer’s salary in the deal with Texas in order to pry top prospect Luisangel Acuña and could do the same to land better talent in exchange for Verlander.
He’s not the only rotation upgrade likely available to contenders, though. The Detroit Tigers could be get several offers Tuesday for starters Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Lorenzen. Rodriguez is 6-5 with a 2.95 ERA this season and has a long track record of big league success. Lorenzen was a first-time All-Star this season and is 5-7 with a 3.58 ERA.
Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox could also continue unloading from their underperforming roster. After already dealing pitchers Lucas Giolito, Kendall Graveman and Lance Lynn, the club could also ship out two-time All-Star Tim Anderson, who has struggled in his final season before becoming eligible for free agency.