Win-Now Phillies Charge Ahead With $300 Million Deal for Trea Turner

Trea Turner
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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 oft-shaky defense, signing 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 Judge, one spot ahead of Carlos Correa, four ahead of Xander Bogaerts, and 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 Contracts, Turner’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
Rk Player Team Total Yrs Period
1 Mike Trout Angels $427 M 12 2019-30
2 Mookie Betts Dodgers $365 M 12 2021-32
3 Francisco Lindor Mets $341 M 10 2022-31
4 Fernando Tatis Padres $340 M 14 2021-34
5 Bryce Harper Phillies $330 M 13 2019-31
6T Giancarlo Stanton Marlins $325 M 13 2015-27
Corey Seager Rangers $325 M 10 2022-31
8 Gerrit Cole Yankees $324 M 9 2020-28
9T Manny Machado Padres $300 M 10 2019-28
Trea Turner Phillies $300 M 11 2023-33
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 Freddie Freeman (both $27.0 million before deferred payments are factored in). Via USA Today’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 Resource, Philadelphia 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 Syndergaard, plus 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
2023 .301 .353 .493 598 101 180 35 4 24 88 46 117 26 129 4 6.1
2024 .296 .349 .478 577 96 171 33 3 22 82 45 113 22 124 3 5.4
2025 .289 .343 .463 553 89 160 30 3 20 76 43 109 18 118 2 4.6
2026 .282 .337 .447 524 82 148 28 2 18 68 41 104 15 112 1 3.8
2027 .273 .328 .424 490 73 134 25 2 15 61 38 98 12 104 0 2.9
2028 .269 .324 .416 449 65 121 23 2 13 53 35 92 10 101 -1 2.4
2029 .268 .323 .409 403 57 108 20 2 11 46 31 84 8 99 -1 1.9
2030 .260 .313 .388 358 49 93 17 1 9 40 27 75 6 91 -2 1.2
2031 .261 .314 .389 357 48 93 17 1 9 39 27 76 5 91 -3 1.1
2032 .256 .308 .377 305 39 78 14 1 7 32 22 66 4 87 -4 0.6
2033 .255 .307 .369 255 31 65 12 1 5 26 18 56 3 84 -4 0.3

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 Stott, and 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 Segura, with 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 Verlander 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.

Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky

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1 year ago

Not much to say here. Phillies want to upgrade at SS. Turner is one of the best. He and Bryce Harper are presumably buddies. He’s getting paid value. Everything makes sense.

1 year ago
Reply to  baubo

I mean, the Phillies’ infield looked like a huge disaster and they have a ton of money. We knew they were signing one of Turner, Correa, or Bogaerts.

I kind of half expect them to go after Bogaerts anyway. Dombrowski gonna do his thing.

1 year ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

If they get Bogaerts at third and shift Bohm over to first, they can trade Rhys Hoskins for a bullpen upgrade or something. Honestly sounds like a good idea to me.

1 year ago
Reply to  EonADS

I sort of take this back. Dombrowski is out there now throwing cold water on this idea and while I think it’s not a great idea to take front office statements at their word, he’s not especially known for misdirection. I think it’s probably more likely they bring back Segura or sign Brandon Drury at this point or something.

1 year ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I think it’s most likely they do neither. The org is very high on Stott as a long-term piece, and still bullish on Bohm. Add in Sosa (whom DD acquired), Nick Maton, and Dalton Guthrie and you have a lot of decent-looking IF making league minimum. That’s what makes huge money to the stars easier.

The real need now is a #3/4 starter, and a couple bullpen pieces.

Last edited 1 year ago by frangipard
1 year ago
Reply to  frangipard

lol $72M for Taijuan Walker what

DD doesn’t mess around