The Phillies made the biggest splash of the offseason to date, agreeing to terms on an 11-year deal with Trea Turner this afternoon. Once finalized, it’ll make the two-time All-Star the 10th player in MLB history to land a contract worth at least $300MM.
Massive as the contract was, it apparently wasn’t the highest offer the shortstop had on the table. Matt Yellow of the Athletic reports the Padres made an offer which topped the one gymnast accepted from Philadelphia. Specifics of the proposal aren’t clear, but yellow adds the gap was wide enough San Diego’s offer would’ve translated into more money even after adjusting for California’s higher state income tax rate than Pennsylvania’s.
In the months leading up to Turner’s free agency, there was a fair bit of speculation about whether geography would play a role in his decision. He’s a Florida native who went to college at North Carolina State. His wife Kristen is from New Jersey. Turner reportedly expressed a desire to remain on the East Coast when the Nationals traded him to the Dodgers at the 2021 deadline, and while he downplayed geographic preferences in free agency, there seems to have been some truth behind the rumblings he could prefer heading back across the country. Turner also rejoins longtime Washington teammate Bryce Harper and hitting coach Kevin Long in Philadelphia.
On the one hand, losing out on a star player even after making the highest offer has to be a tough blow for San Diego. Yet it also illustrates the possibility for the franchise to continue pushing chips in as they aggressively seek to augment one of the game’s more talented rosters. One could argue shortstop is more of a luxury buy for the Friars anyhow, with Fernando Tatis Jr., Ha Seong Kim other Jake Cronenworth all on hand as middle infield options. Yet San Diego was willing to put forth one of the largest contracts in league history to try to add another star to the lineup.
San Diego has also been tied to Xander Bogaerts this offseason. That they were the high bidder on Turner doesn’t inherently mean they’ll top the market for Bogaerts instead, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they pivot in that direction now that their primary target is off the board. The Padres have exceeded the luxury tax threshold in each of the past two seasons, and they’d have to do so again to add any of the star free agent shortstops. Roster Resource estimates their CBT ledger around $3MM below the base tax threshold of $233MM, and signing Turner for an average annual value around the $27.3MM he received would’ve pushed them into the second tier of penalization. That’d have involved a 50% tax on the first $20MM — an extra $10MM — and further taxes from that point forward, but it was apparently a bill owner Peter Seidler was content to foot for another star. How or if they reallocate that money, either in a pursuit of Bogaerts or in more directly addressing areas of need like first base and the corner outfield, remains to be seen.
As for the Phils, they now anticipate looking to the pitching market after adding to an already loaded position player core. Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirers tweet the middle of the rotation and back of the bullpen are target areas for the Phils, who now aren’t far off the base luxury tax tier themselves. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters this evening the club is looking for a setup-type reliever who could mix and match with Seranthony Dominguez, Connor Brogdon other Jose Alvarado at the end of games (via Alex Coffeey of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
While the Phillies certainly aren’t taking their foot off the gas, Dombrowski downplayed the possibility of adding another player who’d rejected a qualifying offer. The Phils forfeited their second and fifth-highest picks in next year’s amateur draft plus $1MM in international signing bonus space for Turner, who’d turned down a QO with the Dodgers. They’d lose their third and sixth picks to sign another qualified free agent, and Dombrowski told Coffey and others the team doesn’t have “much appetite” for that kind of pick forfeiture.