Significance of Phillies’ Trea Turner signing can’t be understated

Trea Turner #6, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Trea Turner #6, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Phillies’ acquisition of Trea Turner impacts the club in many ways.

When the Philadelphia Phillies signed shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million contract on Monday, the team improved on and off the field. Turner has been a premier shortstop in the league since his first full-time season with the Washington Nationals in 2018. The 29-year-old is as close to a five-tool player as you can get, and his numbers and play have consistently proven that.

In each of Turner’s seasons since 2019, he has put up an OPS of at least .800. Turner gets on base, but also has some power — hitting 28 and 21 home runs over the last two seasons, respectively.

Defensively, Turner can hold his own. He has a .972 fielding percentage throughout his career, which is right at league average for his position, according to Baseball-Reference’s Standard Fielding statistics.

Perhaps Turner’s greatest asset is his speed. In four of Turner’s eight seasons in the majors, he has stolen more than 30 bases. In 2022, he stole 27 bases — six more than the Phillies’ stolen base leader, J.T. Realmuto. With larger bases and restrictions on pitchers throwing to hold runners on base next season, it is almost certain that a healthy Turner will swipe at least 30 bases again.

Turner’s signing gives the Phillies some financial flexibility for the rest of the offseason. While it may not seem that giving a player $300 million would be classified as “freeing up money,” the amount of years that Turner signed for brings down the annual salary for the luxury tax hit.

Many experts predicted that Turner would sign a contract of more than $30 million a year, however, Turner’s 11-year deal brings his annual salary to a little more than $27 million per season. It may not seem like much, but that extra cash saved could help sign a cheap reliever or just simply keep the Phillies under the second luxury tax threshold — which would help the club avoid additional qualifying offer compensation pick penalties, as well as loss of international signing bonus money.

Another important factor is that signing Turner will help alleviate some pressure on the Phillies’ offense while Bryce Harper recovers from elbow surgery. It is expected that Harper will miss most of the first half of 2023, so adding a bat like Turner will surely help keep the Phillies’ offense going in Harper’s absence.

While signing any of the big-name free agent shortstops this offseason would have improved the club in one way or another, getting Turner is perhaps the most impactful. It appeared that Turner was the Phillies’ No. 1 target from the beginning of the offseason. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski — once again — went out and got what he wanted to make the team better. Undoubtedly, the savvy Dombrowski has more moves up his sleeve and it will be interesting to see how else he intends to improve the club before Opening Day.

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