OK … two players talking about one another (or one talking about the other) is totally normal when their teams are about to face off or are in the midst of the season series. Duh! The media is always asking pertinent questions and when certain people have a specific history, there’s bound to be some chatter.
Such is obviously the case with former teammates Trea Turner and Bryce Harper. The two played together for the Washington Nationals before Harper left for the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2018 season. Turner remained in Washington for another 1.5 years and won a World Series before the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for him last July.
The Dodgers and Phillies have already played each other seven times in 2022. Their season series ended before Memorial Day.
However, on June 12, Harper is still talking about Turner? This thing couldn’t have been put to bed after Turner called Harper “the best player in the world right now” about a month ago in LA?
Guess not! Here’s what Harper had to say about his former teammate during the Phillies’ weekend series against the Diamondbacks (per Bob Nightengale of USA Today):
"“I think Trea Turner is one of the most underrated players in the game. He’s one of those guys that just goes under the radar. He’s one of the best shortstops in the game. I’m excited to see where he goes next year.”"
Is Bryce Harper trying to recruit Dodgers SS Trea Turner to the Phillies?
So why is Bryce “excited to see” where Turner ends up next year? Is it because the Phillies will need a shortstop with Didi Gregorius and infielder Jean Segura hitting free agency after 2022? That frees up over $30 million on the payroll, and Turner is expected to land a deal in that AAV range assuming he continues to perform at his current rate.
It seems like the Phillies have spent a ton in recent years (and they kind of have), but they only have $129.4 million guaranteed dollars on the 2023 payroll, which gives them a lot of wiggle room to maximize Harper’s prime.
Turner famously wasn’t approached by the Dodgers in the offseason about a contract extension, and some rumblings have suggested he prefers the east coast since he’s from Florida and played a majority of his career in the nation’s capital. Additionally, reports from earlier in the offseason indicated the Phillies might be in the market for one of the top shortstops in free agency come November.
The connection with Harper adds another layer to this that doesn’t exactly help LA, and it’s even more concerning when a player of Harper’s caliber is making it his business to talk about impending free agents when such a topic isn’t formulated organically.