Trea Turner slowly playing his way out of contract extension with Dodgers

Trea Turner has gotten unlucky thus far in 2022 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Trea Turner has also been wildly underwhelming thus far in 2022 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both things can be true.

At this very moment, that’s certainly complicated any potential contract extension talks the team might want to engage in with the star infielder.

Turner’s numbers so far through 37 games are pedestrian. There’s plenty of time to turn things around, and most are optimistic that they will, but in the unlikely event they don’t, we’ll at least have this topic of conversation covered.

First and foremost though has been the defense. Turner’s started all 37 games at shortstop — his primary position — after playing mostly second base during his stint with the Dodgers last year, and has been abysmal. His .975 fielding percentage, -0.3 dWAR, -5 DRS (-9 over the last two years), and the fact that he ranks in the bottom 1 percentile in Outs Above Average (-6 on the year) are all glaring concerns.

Turner’s seen a downturn in his defensive production since the start of 2020 in all of these relevant and meaningful categories, so it’s a necessary factor when considering doling out $200 million.

And though a .280/.344/.399 slash line with a 112 OPS+ isn’t anything to be ashamed of, all of those offensive numbers are well below his career averages of .302/.357/.487 and 122 OPS+.

Is Trea Turner complicating potential contract extension talks with the Dodgers?

The stolen bases aren’t there yet, either. Turner has swiped seven bags in 37 games despite a rock solid .344 OBP. That’s an average of one every ~5 games (5.29 to be exact). Last year, his league-leading 32 steals translated to one every 4.63 games. In 2019, his 35 steals in 122 games equaled one for every 3.49 games). In 2018, his league-leading 43 in 162 games was one in every 3.77 games.

Some of his advanced metrics suggest a “bounce-back” is in order. If you look at this average exit velocity (97th percentile), max exit velocity (91st percentile), hard hit percentage (93rd percentile), expected batting average (86th percentile) and sprint speed (99th percentile) can eventually normalize all of the offensive stats.

But what about his expected slugging (50th percentile), barrel percentage (35th percentile), whiff percentage (49th percentile) and chase rate (53rd percentile)? In all honesty, some of those might cancel out the bullish trends … leaving us right where we are at the moment.

He’s on track for career-low figures in ISO and home run percentage, while also not too far off on strikeout percentage and BABIP. Throw in the concerns on defense, and this, while not disastrous, is certainly closer to “worst-case scenario” for a contract year than anything else.

Given Turner was never approached about an extension and he reportedly has a preference for the East Coast, maybe this wasn’t meant to be. If he doesn’t reverse a number of trends, that’ll certainly cement that sentiment.