Plaschke: Bringing in Max Scherzer and Trea Turner is Andrew Friedman's latest magic moment

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Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) pitches
Max Scherzer, who helped the Nationals beat the Dodgers in the 2019 playoffs on the way to a World Series championship, could be the key to a Dodgers repeat. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Wow. Just, wow.

Just when you thought the Dodgers were running out of gas and Andrew Friedman was losing his magic and their championship defense was in serious jeopardy and the 2021 season was going slowly silent ...

Boom! In through the clubhouse door walks three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.

Boom! Following him is All-Star Trea Turner.

Boom! Chavez Ravine is shaken from its slumber with the sounds of October.

Wake up, Los Angeles, the repeat run to the World Series starts now.

Somehow, the Dodgers and their bold baseball boss Friedman have done it again, using the trade deadline to acquire two of the hottest available players and steady the reeling champs for yet another historic title march.

In a monumental deal that felt like an absolute steal, the Dodgers acquired pitcher Scherzer and all-purpose Turner from the Washington Nationals on Friday without giving up a single established major league player.

They fortified their battered rotation and shored up their shaky infield with two proven championship veterans at the cost of four unproven prospects while once again raising the question: How does Friedman keep getting away with this?

One wishes only the best for the departing catcher Keibert Ruiz, pitcher Josiah Gray, pitcher Gerardo Carrillo and outfielder Donovan Casey. But, seriously?

In return, the Dodgers added an ace starter who will probably follow Walker Buehler in the rotation and a spark plug who will energize the top of the order. Scherzer was unbeaten in five starts in the Nationals’ 2019 championship run and Turner is a career .300 hitter, and again one must ask: How does Friedman keep getting away with this?

Everyone figured he could use prospects to get Scherzer, who is a rental on an expiring contract, but how did he also manage to nab Turner? Earlier this week this column implored Friedman to acquire Scherzer, but it guessed that it might take giving up someone of Cody Bellinger’s status to also pry away Turner. Wrong. Amazingly, it didn’t even cost a Zach McKinstry or a Gavin Lux.

This is the fourth time in six years Friedman has acquired the trade deadline prize without altering the major league team. He picked up Rich Hill in 2016, Yu Darvish in 2017 and Manny Machado in 2018, moves that helped lead to three consecutive division titles and two World Series appearances.

Manny Machado heads to first after hitting a home run for the Dodgers in the 2018 playoffs.
Manny Machado, hitting a home run in the 2018 playoffs against the Braves, helped the Dodgers reach the World Series after joining the team at the trade deadline. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

These latest moves should have similar results, particularly since the Dodgers essentially swiped Scherzer from the West Division-rival San Diego Padres, who seemed to have a deal in place early Thursday before Friedman swooped in. Those old friends up in San Francisco were also shut out of the Scherzer sweepstakes, which should have an indelible effect on the final two months of the season.

The Giants lead the Dodgers by three games and the Padres by 5½ games, but let’s get real. This move makes the Dodgers the overwhelming favorites not only to win the division but to return to the World Series.

Scherzer, 37, is known for having one blue eye and one brown eye, while his pitching has been a consistent shade of great. In 14 seasons he is 183-97 with a 3.19 ERA, including a 2.76 ERA this season. He is particularly unflappable in October, with a 3.38 postseason ERA in 18 playoff starts.

His acquisition also redeems one of the only big mistakes of Friedman’s seven-year Dodgers career, when he failed to sign Scherzer as a free agent in the winter after the 2014 season. While the Nationals were giving Scherzer a seven-year, $210-million contract, Friedman gave Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson contracts worth $58 million.

Scherzer threw two no-hitters that season and has since won two of his Cy Young awards. Meanwhile, McCarthy and Anderson made little impact.

Those memories of regret were blown away Friday like the dust from a slide from Turner, who led the league in stolen bases in 2018 and will give the Dodgers much-needed speed.

While he has been a regular shortstop, Turner can play second base when Corey Seager returns, move to the outfield to spell ailing Mookie Betts or allow the Dodgers to platoon struggling Cody Bellinger. He plays everywhere and plays with abandon, making him perfect for the Dodgers culture. He also fits in to their future if Seager leaves as a free agent because he has another year left on his contract.

Turner led the majors with 78 hits during the abbreviated 2020 season while finishing seventh in National League most valuable player voting. This season he is batting .322 with an .890 OPS and should fit in nicely at the top of the Dodgers’ order.

The two new players give the Dodgers a jolt as they struggle through a stretch in which they’ve lost seven of their last 11 games.

They give the Dodgers organization some needed good news as they are still reeling from the loss of pitcher Trevor Bauer, who is on paid administrative leave.

And, next week, one of them is set up for a debut for the ages, next Wednesday night at 6:40 p.m. in front of a packed house roiled by thoughts of revenge.

Hey Houston Astros, welcome to Dodger Stadium.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Max Scherzer.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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