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3 ideal MLB Free Agency destinations for Max Scherzer

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Perennial Cy Young Award-winning right-hander Max Scherzer is the premier starting pitcher on the MLB free agent market this offseason. Scherzer is coming off another spectacular season split between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.

Fun fact: Scherzer’s collective 2.46 ERA this past season is a career best. Recently concluding a seven-year, $210 million contract, the 37-year-old right-hander is poised to receive a lofty, short-term deal. He’s still one of the five best starting pitchers in MLB.

Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Max Scherzer.

3. Max Scherzer to the Philadelphia Phillies

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The Phillies didn’t take advantage of the Atlanta Braves’ see-saw regular season and have now missed the MLB playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons. It’s difficult to find answers for this ballclub, but the front office could throw a Hail Mary in pursuing Scherzer.

Manager Joe Girardi’s starting rotation is a mixed bunch. Zack Wheeler has become a bonafide ace, and Ranger Suarez was a late-season emergence. On the other hand, former ace Aaron Nola has become a suspect starter, and Zach Eflin is a respectable but little more starter.

Meanwhile, Kyle Gibson was roughed up in the 11 starts he made for the Phillies last season despite posting a 2.87 ERA with the Texas Rangers before the midseason trade. Scherzer would be the stabilizing force that potentially makes their rotation elite.

A one-two punch of Scherzer and Wheeler could match up with any duo in the sport and objectively buy the Phillies two wins for every five games. Philadelphia has the offensive pieces (Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and others) and roster talent in general to be a playoff team. Scherzer gives them a pitching mainstay who’s battle-tested and installs the mindset that the Phillies have to win the NL East.

Related: Top MLB free agents this winter

What could stop the Phillies from signing a former rival (Scherzer spent six and a half seasons with the rival Nationals) is the front office supposedly pushing their payroll into dangerous territory last offseason by re-signing Realmuto and Didi Gregorius. A notion that they merely need to improve their bullpen to get over the hump could also exist.

2. Max Scherzer to the Chicago White Sox

max scherzer free agent destinations: chicago white sox
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Making the MLB playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the White Sox have become the team to beat in the AL Central. Once again, though, they couldn’t win a playoff series, as they were destroyed in four games by the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series. All options should be on the table for the White Sox, and signing Scherzer is a compelling opportunity.

Carlos Rodon had an incredible 2021 campaign, but he was also limited to 24 starts due to injuries, struggled in the playoffs and is currently a free agent. While they could surely keep Rodon on a one-year, prove it deal, the White Sox could also opt to pursue a more proven commodity in Scherzer.

A rotation that includes Scherzer, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel is formidable and has upside; Keuchel had a bad season and Cease is still just 25. Chicago has a high-octane offense that will be healthier than it was throughout the 2021 regular season, as Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missed extensive time due to injuries.

Accompany a healthy offense with Scherzer’s pedigree in an already reliable pitching staff and the White Sox have a near-invincible roster from top to bottom. Heck, maybe the White Sox sign Scherzer and find a way to keep Rodon, too?

This is a team that’s looking to win a World Series with a 77-year-old manager who came out of retirement to do as such (Tony La Russa). One could also figure that Chicago’s offense has a better showing in the 2022 postseason, justifying them focusing on a pitching upgrade.

All that said, Chicago may prefer to keep payroll down, keeping Rodon over Scherzer while adding versatile fielders and smooth relievers with extensions for Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson and others on the horizon.

1. Max Scherzer to the Boston Red Sox

max scherzer free agent destinations: max scherzer to the boston red sox
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The Red Sox came back from the dead in 2021, and now they have reason to operate like a team that’s trying to immediately win the World Series, especially in an uber-tight AL East. From a baseball standpoint, Boston makes all the sense in the world for Scherzer.

First and foremost, Boston got by in the regular season with a mostly unreliable and inconsistent rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez struggled mightily. Nathan Eovaldi didn’t get it going until the summer. Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards and Martin Perez were shaky. Their rotation righted the ship down the stretch thanks to Chris Sale’s return and the emergence of Tanner Houck, who’s likely in the 2022 rotation.

A rotation that includes Scherzer, a healthy Sale, a budding Houck and a reliable Eovaldi is a legitimate rotation that can do damage and has a trove of playoff experience. Combine that rotation with Boston’s elite offense and sturdy bullpen and this is a team that can win the AL. The Red Sox have been relatively quiet on the free agent front in recent memory. A heavy, short-term investment in the future Hall of Famer is worthwhile and a move that’s right up their alley.

While the situation wasn’t a carbon copy of this hypothetical, so to speak, the Red Sox signing Scherzer would be similar to them acquiring then-37-year-old Curt Schilling for the 2004 season. The move put Schilling next to Pedro Martinez, and the Red Sox ended up winning the World Series in 2004. In this scenario, Scherzer is Schilling and Sale is Martinez.

Boston has one of the highest payrolls in MLB and extensions to consider. That said, they should be able to afford a severely hefty move for Scherzer. Maybe they entice the right-hander with a record-breaking, two-year deal? We’re talking about a hole to fill on a big-market team that’s all of a sudden back in the pennant mix.

Max Scherzer and the Boston Red Sox are a great fit for each other.