Phillies Double Down on World Series with $300M Trea Turner Contract

Zachary D. RymerDecember 5, 2022

Los Angeles Dodgers' Trea Turner bats during a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

As the newest member of the team can vouch, the Philadelphia Phillies clearly have the pedal firmly to the metal as they continue their pursuit of a World Series championship.

This particular member is none other than Trea Turner. On Monday, the speedy, powerful shortstop agreed to join the defending National League champions on a deal that ESPN's Kiley McDaniel reported is worth $300 million over 11 years:

Kiley McDaniel @kileymcd

Source: Turner is getting 11 years, $300 million with a full no trade clause <a href="https://t.co/mvpDfFLrHb">https://t.co/mvpDfFLrHb</a>

An additional report from Jon Heyman of the New York Post clarified that the 29-year-old Turner's contract also includes no opt-outs.

It's thus much in the mold of the 13-year, $330 million contract that Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies in March 2019. Just as that was the beginning of a wonderful partnership, the same should prove to be true of Turner's own union with the Phillies.

Trea Turner and the Phillies Are Perfect for One Another

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 11: Trea Turner #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talks to Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 11, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 8-2. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Contrary to Jacob deGrom's landing with the Texas Rangers, Turner's pact with the Phillies is the early leader in the clubhouse for the least surprising move of the 2022-23 offseason.

There were whispers about Turner—who debuted with the Washington Nationals in 2015 before landing with the Los Angeles Dodgers via trade midway through 2021—and the Phillies joining forces as far back as June. It therefore rang true when Jon Morosi of MLB Network on Nov. 30 tabbed the Phillies as the team to beat in his market:

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Phillies?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Phillies</a> have emerged as favorites to sign Trea Turner. My latest report here. <a href="https://twitter.com/MLBNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLBNetwork</a> <a href="https://t.co/PVjw5f6NhP">pic.twitter.com/PVjw5f6NhP</a>

As to why Turner and Philadelphia are such a good fit, well, how much time do you have?

Though it didn't keep them from coming within two wins of the franchise's first World Series title since 2008, the Phillies were among MLB's biggest stragglers at shortstop in 2022. Led primarily by rookie Bryson Stott, the players they tried at the position produced just a .651 OPS, 12 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 0.6 rWAR.

For his part, Turner's 162-game averages over the last three seasons include an .877 OPS, 27 homers, 31 steals and 5.7 rWAR. Check and mate.

Albeit on a temporary basis, the Phillies also needed a means to deepen their lineup while they await Harper's recovery from Tommy John surgery. Signing Turner did that, especially if manager Rob Thomson uses him in the leadoff spot so 46-homer slugger Kyle Schwarber can bat in the middle of the order.

Once Harper is back on the field—which should be sometime around the All-Star break—the Phillies stand to have perhaps the most dynamic offense in the NL.

They were indeed the only team in the Senior Circuit to hit 200 home runs and steal 100 bases in 2022. Turner is a proven contributor on both fronts. And given how well his elite sprint speed jibes with the larger bases and pickoff limitations coming to MLB in 2023, it's possible he hasn't yet peaked as a base stealer.

In addition to all the reasons the Phillies have to be excited right now, let's also acknowledge the things that must have Turner himself feeling elated.

The money, obviously, but also more personal matters as well. There seems to be plenty of mutual fondness between the Turners and the Harpers, and every indication is that the Turner clan also just plain digs the East Coast.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

No opt out in Turner deal. But it works great for him as he’s on the East Coast in Philly (his wife is from New Jersey) with spring in Florida (he’s from Lake Worth)

So, what's not to like?

This Is a Huge But Worthwhile Risk

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 11: Trea Turner #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning in game one of the National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on October 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Well, for one thing, that's a whole lotta years and a whole lotta dollars for someone who isn't exactly young and whose skill set isn't devoid of red flags.

Next year will be Turner's age-30 season, so his new deal will carry him all the way through his age-40 season in 2033. No matter what happens, the Phillies will invariably be saddled with his decline years.

There's a prospect that those will come sooner rather than later, if for no other reason than the aging curve for speed is about as ominous as one would think:

Mike Petriello @mike_petriello

Trea Turner is turning 30, and his obviously elite skill is his speed. Except, speed always declines at a certain point. What does that mean for Turner's free agency? <br><br>-&gt; <a href="https://t.co/KsnohKUtxm">https://t.co/KsnohKUtxm</a> <a href="https://t.co/d5Ni5MArq7">pic.twitter.com/d5Ni5MArq7</a>

The more Turner's speed dries up, the more he'll have to use other means to produce value.

Which brings us to still more red flags, including his hit-or-miss metrics at shortstop and what befell the quality of his contact last season. To wit, the 88.9 mph he averaged on batted balls was his lowest mark since his rookie campaign.

And yet to focus on how Turner might struggle to provide return on investment in the long run is to ignore the massive rewards the Phillies could reap in the short run.

Their championship window is, after all, wide-open right now. And save for Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and José Alvarado, who are slated for free agency after 2023, the Phillies' core players are locked up for more than one season. That's the prop they need to keep said window open.

When it does start to close, Jayson Stark of The Athletic noted how Turner's contract seems explicitly designed to allow the Phillies to get the pieces they need to stop or at least slow that process:

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Phillies?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Phillies</a> strategy with Turner was very similar to how they approached the Bryce Harper talks in 2019.<br><br>They proposed a lower AAV over more years to give them more flexibility to build a roster around both players.<br><br>Both were open to that structure. Obviously!

Even now, the $27.3 million average annual value of Turner's deal is plenty reasonable. It'll become even more so with each passing year, especially in the context of rising luxury-tax thresholds.

In the meantime, still another bonus of Turner's pact is that the Phillies denied one of their biggest enemies a huge puzzle piece. Sans Turner, the Dodgers have no choice but to look elsewhere for a shortstop. And with less hope of finding a discount, to boot.

Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson Are Now On the Clock

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 13: Carlos Correa #4 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates his two-run home run as he rounds the bases against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning of the game at Target Field on September 13, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Royals 6-3. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
David Berding/Getty Images

If Turner is worth $300 million over 11 years, what does that mean for Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson?

Nothing but good things, in all likelihood.

While the general expectation at the outset of the offseason was that Turner would secure a rather large bag, nobody forecast his contract at double-digit years with a guarantee of $300 million. That includes us, as we had him slated for eight years and $272 million.

As such, it now seems instructive to revisit our projections for the three star shortstops who are left:

  • Carlos Correa: 9 years, $270 million
  • Xander Bogaerts: 8 years, $240 million
  • Dansby Swanson: 6 years, $140 million

Those look a little light right about now, particularly where Correa is concerned.

Correa, 28, isn't just younger than Turner. He's also more accomplished, having racked up the most rWAR of any shortstop since 2015 and the most postseason home runs of any shortstop this side of Derek Jeter. He was also ineligible for a qualifying offer and, unlike Turner, is therefore not tied to draft-pick compensation.

As he did when he signed a three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins in March, Correa could once again defy expectations by accepting a short-term, high-AAV contract. But if he and agent Scott Boras want to use Turner's deal as a model, it's hard to imagine he will settle for less than 11 years, $300 million.

In any case, Turner's contract already has this offseason's market positioned to be one that no shortstop will ever forget.

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.