Projecting Trea Turner’s free agent contract after monster Dodgers season

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 10: Trea Turner #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on August 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 10: Trea Turner #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on August 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

When the Dodgers pulled off the No. 1 blockbuster deal of 2021, renting Max Scherzer somehow wasn’t even the highlight of the package. The extra year of All-Star shortstop Trea Turner was the real selling point. Considering Andrew Friedman was risking both Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz blossoming, he earned his keep by securing Turner through 2022 and watching him run.

Unfortunately, that runway is about to expire, though Turner is doing all he can to pilot the Dodgers to another World Series run before it’s time to get down to brass tax.

Turner, a speedster who’s also excellent with the bat, but whose ferocity on the base paths might erode with age, will turn 30 midway through the 2023 season. Paying him through age 35 is hardly a risk at all, which would be a six-year deal. Even a seventh season doesn’t feel like a very worrisome thing to tack on, especially if you’re as well-set-up for the future as the Dodgers already are.

A team like the Philadelphia Phillies could come calling with similar provisions, though. Executive Dave Dombrowski isn’t afraid to sacrifice the future to win immediately, and big-money 2021-22 deals for Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber signaled the Phils were ready to compete and surround Bryce Harper with top-tier talent.

Even without Harper, the Phillies have sprinted into the Wild Card race, which could be serving as a sales pitch for Turner, Harper’s old Nats teammate. When the Dodgers came to town, Harper put on the full-court press to recruit the shortstop into Didi Gregorius’ vacancy. Turner is said to prefer a Florida spring training site, all things considered.

So what will the Dodgers have to pay to keep their star out of Philadelphia’s way?

What will Dodgers pay to keep Trea Turner off Phillies?

Though 2021 was the shortstop class to end all shortstop classes, Turner will still likely hit free agency alongside some heavy hitters in Dansby Swanson (a half-year younger), Xander Bogaerts (several months younger, and likely to opt out of his Red Sox deal), and Carlos Correa again (likely to opt out of his Twins deal).

Turner’s early-season shortstop metrics were surprisingly ugly, which might give the Dodgers pause. Swanson is the only glove-first shortstop in this trio, though, and should also be the only player who outpaces Turner financially, at the end of the day.

Will the Braves really allow their second straight franchise cornerstone, in as many seasons, to depart in free agency? After taking care of Matt Olson and Austin Riley, do the Braves really not have enough left in their coffers for an eight-year, $215 million Swanson deal?

Odds are that market will be full of very few sharks; Atlanta should make their intentions known quickly. That leaves the Dodgers, Phillies and Cardinals (per rumors) to battle over Turner and Bogaerts.

Turner has been a hit machine since joining a stacked Dodgers lineup, and with very few payroll commitments on the books beyond next season (Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, and hilariously Austin Barnes), Andrew Friedman will likely go all out to top his competition. Bogaerts is about to opt out of a $20 million annual deal in hopes of reaching … what, $25 or $26 million?

The Dodgers should be able to afford Turner at seven years and $185 million (a hair over $26 million annually), which he’s en route to commanding.

There’s a reason many prognosticators are predicting Bogaerts will go to the Cardinals anyway.

If Turner bolts for Philadelphia and enjoys the spring training of his dreams in 2023, it’ll probably be because both teams offered equivalent deals in the $185 million range. If Philly drops an eighth year … the conversation might end quickly, and the Dodgers might want to let it dissolve.

After all, there’s always Bogaerts … or another scorned Brave.