On December 5th, multiple reports indicated the Philadelphia Phillies and free-agent shortstop Trea Turner were in agreement on an 11-year, $300 million contract with a full no-trade clause. The team made the signing official a few days later and held a press conference for their new star player.
Many questions were asked, but the main topics focused on the negotiation process for Turner as a whole, what impacted his decision in coming to Philadelphia, and how he, and his contract, will age over the years.
The first question asked was in reference to the other offers, like the reported $342 million contract from the San Diego Padres, that were made to Turner and what made Philadelphia the place he wanted to play. This was his answer:
“I was lucky enough to have some good offers on the table and tough consideration going through it. Me and my wife, we wanted to weigh all options and take the process as serious as possible… money wasn’t necessarily an option for us. We pictured ourselves here, I pictured myself in this uniform, she pictured living here…playing with Bryce (Harper) and (Kyle) Schwarber… It seemed like a lot of things added up and pointed us in this direction and we were excited about it…”
He also mentioned former Washington Nationals‘, and now, Phillies’ hitting coach Kevin Long as being a factor in coming to Philadelphia.
Much has been made about Turner and Bryce Harper being former teammates and friends. He was asked about how much Harper was involved in the process of signing in Philadelphia. Turner mentioned Harper had texted him and was there to answer any questions he had about the organization and lifestyle of being in Philadelphia.
In terms of how Turner will age and how the front office evaluated that matter, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski had this to say:
“You do as thorough a job you possibly can, it’s not an exact science…sometimes you have to differentiate between a normal big league player and an elite athlete, we do think there are some differences in that regard too…an elite athlete can last longer at their performance level than other individuals can”
The Phillies’ new shortstop was asked if the playoffs had any role in his decision-making. He mentioned it was a big factor, and as he watched the Phillies in the playoffs, he noticed how much fun not only the players, but the fans, had together.
Turner did note he had a few other meetings with clubs and he wanted to do his homework. He discussed the topic of family a few times. The middle infielder said he wanted a long-term deal and that he wasn’t trying to get the most money possible. He wanted to make a commitment where he signed and to build a family wherever he ended up.
Turner spent 2022 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a National League All-Star for the second time in his career. He hit .298/.343/.466 with 39 doubles and 21 home runs in 708 plate appearances. The Phillies’ new shortstop also had a 121 OPS+, 100 RBIs, 194 hits, 27 stolen bases, and scored 101 runs.
The All-Star made his Major League debut in 2015 with the Washington Nationals and has become one of baseball’s most exciting players to watch.
Let’s look at how Turner profiles as a player and what he can bring to the reigning National League Champions.
Speed and Defense
One of the first things people talk about when discussing Trea Turner is his speed. He has consistently been one of the fastest players in baseball since being called up to the majors. Throughout his career, Turner’s sprint speed has remained in the 99th or 100th percentile.
Turner has played shortstop, second base, and center field in the majors. Most of his playing time has come as a middle infielder, though. As he ages, he may eventually move to second base full-time, but he will start his career with the Phillies as the everyday shortstop.
Here are Turner’s defensive metrics as a shortstop going back to 2017:
|Year||Outs Above Average||Defensive Runs Saved|
He was obviously a much better defender according to defensive metrics early on in his career, but the Phillies aren’t looking for Turner to play Gold Glove-caliber defense. Providing league-average defense up the middle, just like the last two seasons, is exactly what they’re hoping to get.
Turner’s arm strength isn’t the best when compared to the other shortstops across Major League Baseball. Statcast recently released numbers on defenders and their respective arm strengths over the last two seasons. Turner ranks toward the bottom of the big leagues in both years.
His average arm strength in 2022 was 83.7 MPH (39th percentile). In 2021, it was 81.5 MPH (37th percentile).
The Phillies didn’t sign Turner for his ability in the field. All he needs to do is make the routine plays and throws.
On the other hand, Philadelphia did sign Turner for his bat. He has been one of the more offensively productive shortstops and players in the game over the last few seasons. He is likely going to provide a spark toward the top of the Phillies’ lineup.
This past season wasn’t Turner’s best, but it was still very productive.
Diving into Turner’s numbers from this year shows a player who struggled against breaking balls. His batting average (.247) was the second lowest of his career and his slugging percentage (.364) was the lowest of his career against breaking pitches.
As a big leaguer, Turner has usually hit well against fastballs. With his struggles against breaking balls this season, he saw fewer fastballs and more breaking stuff. In terms of percentages, 51.2% of the pitches he faced were fastballs (a career-low) and 36.9% were breaking balls (a career-high).
His plate discipline and contact numbers were not where they usually are either. Turner had a career-high in Swing% (51.1%) and O-Swing% (36.4%). He was also more aggressive against pitches in the zone this year. His Z-Swing% (74.5%) was also a career-high.
Turner saw a career-low 38.8% of pitches inside the strike zone in 2022. Also, his Contact% (74.9%) was the lowest he’s ever had.
His walk and strikeout rates were right around what we have come to expect them to be. Turner has always been a hitter who doesn’t walk or strike out a ton. In 2022, he was in the 25th percentile in walk percentage and 68th percentile in strikeout percentage.
Even though it wasn’t his greatest offensive season, Turner still finished top 10 in the National League in plate appearances (708), batting average (.298), hits (194), doubles (39), triples (4), stolen bases (27), total bases (304), RBIs (100), and runs scored (101).
Splits and Lineup Placement:
One of the more important things to look at for a hitter is how well they hit against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Turner hits both of them well. To this point in his career, Turner is slashing .317/.374/.512 against lefties and .297/.349/.479 against righties.
Another important topic to look at when it comes to a hitter is where they fit into a lineup. The discussions have already started about where Turner could find himself in the Phillies’ batting order. Some people seem to think he should lead off. Others see him as a good fit for the two hole.
When asked at his introductory press conference about where could end up in the lineup, Turner said he doesn’t have a preference for where he hits and added that he’s comfortable anywhere.
He spent most of 2022 batting second or third for the Dodgers but did have 105 plate appearances out of the leadoff spot. He hit .337/.371/.520 in those plate appearances.
During his career, Turner’s 2,176 plate appearances out of the leadoff spot are more than any other spot in the batting order. His career slash line out of that spot in the lineup is .303/.353/.488. No matter where Turner hits, it will likely be toward the top of the Phillies’ lineup.
Turner’s Different Approach
Turner’s profile at the plate will be a nice contrast to what the team saw in 2022 from the top of the batting order.
Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins were the one-two punch at the top of the Phillies’ lineup most of the year. Both had high walk and strikeout numbers, and also saw a lot of pitches per plate appearance.
Schwarber’s walk rate (12.9%) was 10th in the big leagues, while his strikeout rate (29.9%) was 4th highest. For Hoskins, his walk rate (10.7%) was 27th and his strikeout rate (25.2%) was tied with Aaron Judge for 21st. Turner’s numbers are lower in both categories. His walk rate was 6.4% and his strikeout rate was 18.5%.
Turner’s previously mentioned Swing% of 51.1% this year was higher than both Schwarber (40.3%) and Hoskins (41.8%).
Another contrasting characteristic of Turner is the number of pitches he saw per plate appearance in 2022. He only saw 3.84 pitches per plate appearance, while Schwarber saw 4.31 pitches and Hoskins saw 4.30. Schwarber was 2nd in that category in the majors with Hoskins right behind him in 3rd.
Turner will be a much different hitter than the Phillies have had toward the top of their lineup recently. He doesn’t walk or strike out nearly as much as Schwarber or Hoskins and has a much more aggressive approach at the plate.
It is likely that Turner slides into the second spot in the lineup for the Phillies.
This is how their lineup could look come Opening Day 2023:
One final thing to mention about Turner’s signing is how it will help the offense in the absence of Bryce Harper who recently had Tommy John surgery. Harper could miss most of the first half of the season, so Turner’s presence provides depth to the offense as they await the return of their best player.
Trea Turner will be a member of the Philadelphia Phillies for the next 11 years. He’s excited to be a part of the organization and will help them towards their goal of winning a world championship in 2023.
Turner brings speed, a solid glove, and a very good bat with him. He has been one of the more exciting players to watch in recent years and the Phillies, along with their fans, hope that will continue during his time in red pinstripes.
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Featured Photo: Twitter / @Phillies