After overcoming a slow start and firing manager Joe Girardi, the Phillies made it all the way to the World Series for the first time since 2009. On Monday, they took a significant step toward improving their chances of returning, and of upgrading their of- shaky defense, signed shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million deal, one that includes a full no-trade clause.
Turner, who turned 29 on June 30, spent the past season and a half with the Dodgers after coming over from the Nationals in the 2021 trade deadline blockbuster that also brought Max Scherzer to Los Angeles. In 2022, he earned All-Star honors for the second time, batting .298/.343/.466 (128 wRC+) with 21 homers, 27 steals (in 30 attempts), and 6.3 WAR. He played 160 games and led the NL in plate appearances (708) and at-bats (652) and ranked fourth in steals.
While Turner’s offensive performance represented a dip from his 2021, when he won the NL batting title (.328/.375/.536, 142 wRC+), led the league in steals (32), and ranked third in WAR (6.8), he was still an impressive ninth in the last of those categories in ’22. Bolstered by average defense at shortstop — no small accomplishment or attraction for a team that has employed Didi Gregorius in the recent past — he was third in WAR among shortstops behind Francisco Lindor (6.8) and fellow free agent Dansby Swanson (6.4), but his longer track record for strong production than Swanson, and the added dimension of his speed, had to make him the more attractive of the two for a long-term deal. Toward that end, it’s worth noting that Turner placed second on our Top 50 Free Agents list below only Aaron Judgeone spot ahead of Carlos Correafour ahead of Xander Bogaertsand six ahead of Swanson.
The size of Turner’s contract outdid both our median crowdsource estimate (seven years, $210 million) and that of listmaker Ben Clemens (nine years, $288 million), a common theme from among the early deals so far. That should’t surprise us within an industry that appears to have set a record in revenues (just shy of $11 billion) and that just got a $900 million windfall ($30 million per team) from MLB selling its remaining 15% stake in the BAMTech streaming platform to Disney.
Via Cot’s ContractsTurner’s contract is tied for the ninth-largest in major league history in terms of total value, and it makes the Phillies the first team to sign two free agents to deals worth at least $300 million, with Bryce Harper the other one:
The $300 Million Club
|6T||Gian Carlo Stanton||marlins||$325M||13||2015-27|
SOURCE: Cot’s Contracts
The Phillies are the third team with two $300 million players on their roster, with the Yankees (who traded for Stanton) and the Padres (who signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to an extension) the others.
At the same time, the length of the deal, which covers Turner’s ages 30–40 seasons, dilutes its impact from an average annual value standpoint. Its $27.27 million AAV ranks just 27th, according to Cot’s, edging out those of Betts and Freddy Freeman (both $27.0 million before deferred payments are factored in). Via USAToday‘s Bob Nightengale, Turner’s deal pays him the flat $27.27 million all the way through and contains no deferrals.
That lower AAV gives a bit of extra maneuverability for a team whose $246.4 million payroll (including player benefits) exceeded the first Competitive Balance Tax threshold in 2022 ($233 million) and figures to land somewhere past that point without going over the second one ($253 million). Via Roster ResourcePhiladelphia is at $217.7 million (again including benefits) and likely needs another starting pitcher after the free-agent departures of Kyle Gibson (who just signed with the Orioles), Zach Eflin (who signed with the Rays) and Noah Syndergaardplus an outfielder/DH to help cover for Harper’s absence during the first half of the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, plus bullpen help, like every other contender.
Via Dan Szymborski, here’s a look at Turner’s ZiPS projection over the course of the deal:
ZiPS Projection—Trea Turner
If you’re scoring at home, that looks more or less like three years of star-level play, four more years of above-average play, and four that fall somewhere along the spectrum between rough sledding and the cost of doing business. By the end of the contract, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will be 77 years old, making the back portion of Turner’s deal quite explicitly Someone Else’s problem — not an uncommon theme during Dombrowski’s past stints in Detroit and Boston. Via Szymborski, ZiPS suggests a $262 million deal over those 11 years, so again, we’re seeing some bigger-than-expected spending.
As for the current roster, Turner should provide a major upgrade on the 82 wRC+ and 1.9 WAR the Phillies received from Gregorius, Bryson Stottand others at shortstop in 2022. Gregorius is long gone, but Stott, a 2019 first-round pick who entered last season at no. 36 on our Top 100 Prospects list, should be able to slide over to second base to replace free agent Jean Segurawith Edmundo Sosa as a potential platoon partner. The 25-year-old Stott hit just .234/.295/.358 in 466 PA, but he did club 10 homers and steal 12 bases, and he projects to improve upon that dismal slash line (.253/.321/. 405 for 2023 via Steamer). Small sample though they are, the defensive metrics show that he did better in 47 games at the keystone than 83 games at short.
In short, this is an aggressive and impressive move by the Phillies as they push to challenge the Braves and Mets — no slouches themselves in that race, having signed Justin Verander earlier on Monday — for NL East supremacy. It’s also worth noting that in signing Turner, Philadelphia dealt a blow to the Dodgers, who if they’re going to spend big to replace him have a less comfortable fit with Correa (particularly given his role on the 2017 Astros, already a concern) , the other shortstop from the group that appears on their radar. Like every contract of this size, there’s particular risk at the back end, but this is exactly the caliber of move you’d expect from a team in win-now mode.