The reigning National League Champions are not messing around. The Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly agreed to an 11-year, $300 million deal with two-time All-Star shortstop Trea Turner. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was first with the deal and Kiley McDaniel was first with the terms.
Source: Turner is getting 11 years, $300 million with a full no trade clause https://t.co/mvpDfFLrHb— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) December 5, 2022
Trea Turner is one of the best all-around players in Major League Baseball. The 29-year-old holds a career batting line of .302/.355/.487 and has averaged 24 home runs and 44 stolen bases over an eight-year career with the Nationals and Dodgers. Turner overlapped with Bryce Harper in Washington from 2015-2018. Since entering the league in 2015, Turner is tied with new teammate J.T. Realmuto in bWAR (29.7) and is 15th in fWAR (31.6).
Turner earned his second consecutive All-Star selection in 2022 with a .298/.343/.496 batting line with 21 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases. Over the course of those two All-Star seasons, Turner hit .312 with an .858 OPS. He also had 49 HRs and 59 steals. Turner was arguably the second-best position player on the free agent market behind Aaron Judge.
Fit on the Phillies
Turner is almost a match made in heaven for the Phillies. He gives them more contact and elite speed at the top of their loaded lineup. There’s a good possibility that he surpasses his career high stolen base number of 46 set in 2017 thanks to the new rule limiting pickoff throws to first base. Turner allows Kyle Schwarber to either stay leadoff with Turner hitting second or Turner could go to leadoff with Schwarber moving to cleanup. Regardless, Turner makes a Phillies offense that finished seventh in runs scored in 2022 even more lethal and versatile.
However, Turner’s defense at shortstop is suspect. He had -1 defensive runs saved at short last year and has averaged 1 DRS per 1,200 innings at SS in his career. What that means is that Turner is an average defender at best whose future is most likely away from shortstop. It is a longshot that he stays at shortstop for the entirety of his contract with the Phillies.
Turner’s contract has an average annual value (AAV) of $27.5M. That’s just a hair Bryce Harper’s $25M AAV on his 13-year, $300M contract that was signed in 2019. Like with Harper, the Phillies tacked on more years to the end of Turner’s contract in order to allow more room under the competitive balance tax thresholds to add more players.
The Phillies were at a projected $182M payroll before the Turner signing according to Spotrac. Turner’s deal in addition to any further ones will firmly put them over the first CBT tax threshold for the second straight season. They will still have roughly $34M in room under the second tax threshold for 2023.
Turner makes the Phillies much better now and for the next three to five years. This is a move you make when your ownership is all in on getting back to the World Series. Instead of pocketing the extra revenue from their surprising pennant run last season, John Middleton and co. have opted to put their money where their mouth is and give the team the best possible chance to win in its current window, and team president Dave Dombrowski has started the offseason aggressively.
Of course, the backend of the Turner contract could be problematic. He’ll be under contract until 2034 at which point Turner will be 41. That’s two years after Bryce Harper’s megadeal expires when Harper turns 38 in 2032. The Phillies will be committing roughly $50M on two players in their late 30s.
However, that is not a concern for right now. Worry about 2032 in 2032. The financials of the sport could be drastically different then than they are now. They already are in the years since Harper’s signing. And, if it results in multiple postseason runs and possible championships, will anyone care?