Is Bryce Harper trying to convince the Phillies to sign Trea Turner?
Bryce Harper has a history of pushing the Philadelphia Phillies to be better.
From calling out their lackluster farm system, to advocating for younger players to get playing time, to saying the Phillies need to add more bat power, the superstar doesn’t shy away from the issues facing the franchise. It makes sense that he’s not content to play for a mediocre team; he signed a record-breaking contract to represent the Phillies, and he’s made it clear that championship is the goal.
Harper spent the offseason lobbying for his team to give him some backup in the lineup. In particular, he wanted hometown friend Kris Bryant to join him. Instead, the Phillies signed Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, a powerful one-two punch in their own right.
Is hotshot infielder Trea Turner Harper’s next target?
Does Bryce Harper want the Phillies to sign Trea Turner?
Harper and Turner overlapped on the Washington Nationals from 2015-18, before Harper departed in free agency and signed his blockbuster deal with the Phillies. In 2021, the Nats traded Turner and Max Scherzer to the already-stacked Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer became a free agent at the end of the season, but Turner won’t hit the market until this fall. The Dodgers did not approach Turner about an extension, so he’s almost certainly looking for a new team.
Having played with and against Turner, Harper had the highest praise for his former teammate-turned-rival earlier this week:
"“I think Trea Turner is one of the most underrated players in the game. He’s one of those guys that just goes under the radar. He’s one of the best shortstops in the game. I’m excited to see where he goes next year.”"
Was Harper simply being complimentary, or was he sending a message to Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies front office?
Turner is an excellent hitter who would undoubtedly improve the lineup, but the Phillies’ biggest need is defense; they’re 10th in MLB in errors, though watching them, it often feels like they’re even worse. Over 604 career games at shortstop, Turner has a .974 fielding percentage. He’s also played well at second base, with a .980 fielding percentage over 91 games.
The Phillies have several big contracts coming off the books after this season, including shortstop Didi Gregorius and potentially, second baseman Jean Segura. The Phillies have a club option on Segura, but there’s no guarantee they pick him up. Turner, who plays shortstop, second base, and a little outfield, makes a lot of sense.
However, there is the matter of Bryson Stott’s future. He hasn’t gotten enough regular playing time this season to really find his footing, but he’s shown flashes of the player he’s projected to be, and his minor-league and Arizona Fall League performances were exemplary. He’s supposed to be the Phillies’ shortstop of the future.
Stott is also a hometown friend of Harper’s. He lives with Harper during spring training and they watch college football, go on vacations, and celebrate holidays together. The Phillies superstar has advocated for the rookie on several occasions, so if Harper is trying to get the Phillies to sign Turner, maybe it’s with second base in mind.
The Phillies will have a lot of money to play with this coming offseason, and you can bet Harper is going to be pushing them to spend it. Maybe on Turner.