The Max Scherzer dream is dead — if it was even alive.
In search of rotation help ahead of the trade deadline at 4 p.m. Friday, the Mets will not acquire Nationals ace Max Scherzer, according to people familiar with the situation.
"It’s not happening," one of them said Tuesday.
Another source indicated that Scherzer, who has veto power over any trade he is involved in, did not want to come to the Mets.
it was a long shot to begin with and became longer this week as the Nats, fully shifted into deadline seller mode, reportedly heard from at least eight clubs interested in Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and a free agent after this season.
Mets acting general manager Zack Scott said Monday he was open to dealing within the NL East.
"Some other teams may feel differently," Scott said then.
Multiple reports Tuesday said Scherzer prefers to go to a West Coast-based team with a good chance of winning the World Series, and the Dodgers, Padres and Giants all have checked in with the Nationals about him.
He has a 2.83 ERA — his best mark since 2018 — and turned 37 on Tuesday. He missed his last start last week with a right triceps issue.
The week began with the strong possibility of Scherzer-Mets being a non-starter.
"In some cases, we've already had conversations where you don't have to go too deep, too far down the road before you know they're just not going to waive it," Scott said, speaking generally of players with no-trade powers. "So we don't spend too much time on it."
And so the Mets’ search for starting pitching continued, albeit in tiers of pitchers below Scherzer, a likely future Hall of Famer.
One of the Mets’ other apparent targets, Pirates lefthander Tyler Anderson, was close to being traded to the Mariners, according to ESPN. He has a 4.35 ERA and is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason.
As the Mets look for upgrades, suddenly their search for bodies isn’t quite as desperate. After they solved Tuesday — by re-signing righthander Jerad Eickhoff, who had already been cut twice by them in the past month — they didn’t have any other TBA days in the immediate future.
The Mets’ intended five-man rotation, beginning Friday: Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, Rich Hill, Tylor Megill, Taijuan Walker. And that is not to mention Jacob deGrom, who is working his way back from right forearm tightness.
Adding a starter — and being able to keep all of the above healthy/available — would leave the Mets in an unfamiliar spot of having more starting pitchers than spots in the rotation.
That is a scenario the Mets already have considered.
"If you’re talking about multiple acquisitions, what happens when guys come back?" Scott said. "How does that affect your bullpen if you’re moving someone into the bullpen? Or are we doing piggybacks?"
That last option is when a team uses two starters on the same day, getting through perhaps the entire game without having to use an actual reliever. For the Mets, it could mean pairing, say, Rich Hill (often has trouble pitching deep) and Tylor Megill (set to pass his career-high innings total with his next start). Such a plan would build in easier days for the bullpen, too.
"All options are open, we’re talking through all those things," Scott said. "Yeah, any time you have to kind of look at the puzzle in different ways, it adds time and maybe complicates things a little bit. But I’m confident that we will be able to navigate through that uncertainty this week."
With David Lennon
Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at newsday.com/metstext.