Before Trea Turner was fairly universally seen as one of the most complete position players in baseball, Bryce Harper got an up-close view at the talent that the shortstop possessed, with the two spending parts of four seasons as teammates on the Washington Nationals.
A year after winning the National League batting title, Turner, now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is putting together another excellent campaign. In a contract year, Turner is slashing .299/.353/.468 with an .820 OPS.
Likely to be reunited as teammates at next month’s All-Star Game, Harper told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he’s happy that more and more people are finding out about Turner, who was long one of the game’s best-kept secrets.
“I think Trea Turner is one of the most underrated players in the game,” Harper said. “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.”
After Harper homered three times in three games against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine in May, Turner simply said that it “feels like he’s the best player in the world right now.” Clearly, there’s quite a bit of mutual respect between the two, which will create speculation that Turner could be a free-agent target of the Phillies if he does reach free agency following the 2022 season.
Earlier this month, “several” anonymous executives predicted to Nightengale that the Phillies will be “in the market for one of the marquee free-agent shortstops.”
Both Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius — making a combined $28.75 million in 2022 — will come off the books for the Phillies this offseason, barring the unlikely scenario where the Phillies exercise Segura’s $17 million club option for 2023 rather than taking the $1 million buyout. Bryson Stott has come on strong of late, but has received his best defensive marks in the very early going of his MLB career at second base (one defensive run saved, two outs above average).
The most likely scenario for Turner would seem to be that he signs a long-term deal to remain with the Dodgers past this season. But Jon Heyman of The New York Post also previously reported that the 28-year-old is “still believed to prefer the East Coast.” And given that the Dodgers have allowed Manny Machado and Corey Seager to depart in free agency over the last few years, who knows what will happen.
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