Phillies’ shortstop Trea Turner speaks on 2023 struggles, feels a breakout is coming

What has been behind the struggles of the Phillies' big free agent signing in 2023?

Philadelphia Phillies v Tampa Bay Rays, Trea Turner
Philadelphia Phillies v Tampa Bay Rays, Trea Turner / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

During the 2022-23 offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies made a huge splash in the free agent market by signing Trea Turner to a massive 11-year, $300 million contract. Phillies’ President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski truly believed that “you win with star players”, and certainly put a stamp on that with the recruitment of Turner, whom he believed to be one of the 10 best players in all of baseball in his account. By signing such a gigantic long-term contract, what comes with it is not just the money, but huge expectations and responsibilities in leading the team to success.

However, things have not been going to plan in Turner’s first season with his new ballclub. He has been greatly underproducing and underperforming for more than halfway through the season, with an underwhelming stats line of .250/.302/.386, with only nine home runs and 31 RBI, to go along with 92 strikeouts already. In a season in which fellow superstar teammate Bryce Harper has also been struggling, Turner’s offensive output was simply not acceptable, especially given the size of the contract he had been given and the unworldly expectations to be able to produce.

In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Turner opened up on his 2023 struggles.

"I don’t know if there’s an adjustment period. It’s hard to answer, But I’ve played in big markets, I’ve played all over. If that wasn’t the case, maybe it would be different. I’ve just underperformed individually. I just haven’t done it at the level that I’m accustomed to."

For someone that had been through it all and seen it all, it shouldn’t have that big of an impact trying to grow accustom to a new team. After all, he has been on the big stage, winning the World Series with the Washington Nationals back in 2019, as well as being dealt to a contender in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 with no drop off in performance resulting from it. Turner even acknowledged that there was definitely more pressure in being able to deliver for a team that you had been dealt to than just coming to a new team through free agency.

"That’s what I think, too. Getting traded and being a big part of a team that’s traded for you to make a postseason run, I don’t know if it gets any more pressure than that."

On the bright side, Turner was confident that he can turn things around sooner than later, given his prior track record in his career. He believes if he can somehow maintain his consistency, the numbers will eventually come.

"You always look for this one day and it just takes off, and I’m still looking for that, too. (But) I don’t think that’s how this game works … I’ve never been like, 15-for-15, or 10 home runs in a week, just super hot. It’s just kind of, keep chugging along, keep chugging along, and at the end of the year, your numbers are there."

Even Phillies' manager Rob Thomson has his back and truly believed that we will once again see the prolific-hitting, defensive-steady Turner eventually.

"You see spurts of who he really is, and you see these other spurts of stuff that you haven’t seen from him. I’m hoping it all evens out and we see who he really is in the second half. My gut is that’s what we’re going to see at some point the good Trea Turner, the consistent .350-.360 on-base, hitting home runs, making plays in the field."

It is great to know that Turner has both his manager and his teammates fully supporting him during the tough times. So how did Turner summarize his rough slow start so far this year with the Phillies and what his potential outlook will be?

"It’s a hard game … it’s kind of kicked my butt this year … I can be one of the best players in the game. I want to be what I’ve done in my career. You have thousands of at-bats. It’s who I am. I expect to be around those numbers. That’s what I did for, what, seven, eight years? I don’t expect to have a 1.200 OPS for two months, but I don’t expect to have a .600 OPS … Just hasn’t been up to that standard. I’m getting close, but I’ve got to do it."