This upcoming MLB offseason, for the second year in a row, the shortstop market should be the most intriguing part of free agency. Prior to the 2022 MLB season, we saw Corey Seager sign a 10-year, $325M deal with the Texas Rangers, Trevor Story signs a six-year, $140M deal with the Red Sox, and Javier Baez signs the same deal with the Tigers.
As always, free agent shortstops come at a premium as there are few elite ones and they serve as anchors for their team. This offseason Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, and potentially Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts are all up for new contracts. In a four-part series, we will take a deep dive into their potential markets and how much they’re worth. Today, we look at the potential Trea Turner contract.
You can find the analysis on the other free agent shortstops here!
Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts
Turner Through 2022
Trea Turner spent the first six-and-a-half years of his career in Washington before being traded to the Dodgers at the deadline. Turner is a two-time All-Star and a batting champ, and he is putting up yet another great season in 2022 for the Dodgers. This year, he is batting .305/.350/.481 with a 133 wRC+, 4.0 BsR, and 5.2 fWAR.
From 2015 to 2019, Turner put up a .291/.348/.467 slash line with a 114 wRC+ and 15.8 fWAR. For a while, he went under the radar in a lineup with Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, and Anthony Rendon, among others. He was always among the league leaders in stolen bases but didn’t break out at the plate until the 2020 season.
The best season of Turner’s career came in 2021 when he put up a 142 wRC+, 5.0 BsR, 3 OAA, and 6.8 fWAR in 148 games split between Washington and Los Angeles. Though Turner’s numbers are slightly down from the prior two years, he still ranks 2nd in wRC+, 3rd in OBP, 1st in SLG, 5th in BsR, and 4th in fWAR among qualified shortstops this year. Since the start of the 2021 season, only Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge have more fWAR than Turner.
Turner, entering free agency as a 29-year-old, may be the most coveted shortstop on the market this offseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers will probably be interested in returning their star shortstop, but there will undoubtedly be other teams in his market. The Chicago Cubs are reportedly interested in signing one of the top free agent shortstops. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox could both potentially lose their starting shortstops to free agency. The Philadelphia Phillies have needed an anchor at the shortstop position for the better part of a decade. Turner may be out of the price range of a team like the Minnesota Twins, but they could be in the market if they’re willing to shell out the money.
Mets star shortstop Francisco Lindor could be used as a high-end comparison for Turner, although there are a couple of glaring differences between their situations. While Turner is hitting the open free agent market, Lindor signed his contract as an extension after being dealt to New York. Lindor’s 10-year, $341M extension started in his age-28 season, while Turner’s new contract will start in his age-30 season.
Turner has been slightly better in the years leading up to their new contracts, but they have had almost statistically identical careers overall. Prior to signing the deal, Lindor had a .285/.346/.488 slash line with a 119 wRC+ and 30.9 career fWAR. In his career, Turner has a .303/.356/.490 slash line with a 125 wRC+ and 30.6 career fWAR. While Turner has put up 40.1 BsR to Lindor’s 7.4, Lindor has more than made up for it with his glove. His career 112 OAA and 42 DRS are far better than Turner’s 17 OAA and 14 DRS.
The extra two years could make all the difference. In all major long-term contracts, teams will overpay for the end of a player’s career in return for slightly underpaying for the first half. With Turner, the team that signs him gets two fewer years of the first half. If Turner can play as he has for the past five years, he’ll be worth around the same amount as Lindor on a year-to-year basis. In his case, hitting the open market should play in his favor since multiple teams can bid for his services, especially in a year when many big market teams need shortstops.
What Will the Trea Turner Contract Look Like?
Trea Turner could see the largest contract out of any of the free agent shortstops this offseason. Although he trails both Swanson and Bogaerts in fWAR this year, Turner has been better over the past few years. According to FanGraphs, Turner has been worth nearly $100 million over the past two seasons. He is projected by ZiPS to put up 5.6, 5.5, and 5.1 fWAR in each of the next three seasons. I’d project Turner’s deal to be around eight years, $240 million for an average annual salary of $30 million.
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