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Friday, August 13, 2021

The Nationals’ deadline fire sale unfolded in a matter of days. But it was years in the making.

Turner’s agents at CAA Sports talked to the Nationals multiple times during 2020 spring training. They exchanged at least three proposals, with the Nationals offering in the neighborhood of six years, $100 million, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Turner was then one of MLB’s more productive shortstops, but not necessarily an elite one. From 2017 to 2019, seven shortstops accumulated more FanGraphs WAR than Turner, including then-Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who signed a six-year deal worth $120 million before the 2020 season.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the sides stopped negotiating and lost momentum. And a year after helping the Nationals to a title, Turner took a star turn. He hit .335 in 59 games in 2020. His strikeout rate plummeted. He tied for fourth in stolen bases and hit 12 homers, a relative power surge that left him trailing slugging shortstops Fernando Tatis Jr. and Corey Seager for the lead at that position.

Trea Turner’s strikeout rate plummeted in 2020. He tied for fourth in stolen bases during that season and hit 12 homers. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
All the while, Turner said he would be open to talking to the Nationals about a long-term deal. Rizzo said that he and Turner’s agents planned to speak more. But by spring of 2021, shortstops were the focus of the baseball world. A massive class was set to hit the market after that season, meaning Turner would likely have a better sense of what he might command when reaching free agency a year later.

When Cleveland sent Lindor to the New York Mets, Turner’s representatives began hammering the favorable comparisons between the two, arguing that whatever Lindor got in an extension would probably be a fitting number for Turner, too. The Mets gave Lindor 10 years and $341 million. To Turner and his team, the landscape had changed, something they communicated to the Nationals and others in the aftermath.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2021 at 03:25 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: max scherzer, nationals, trea turner

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 13, 2021 at 06:02 PM (#6034305)
I like Lindor a lot. Pre-2020 I figured he was probably the best SS in the game or at least his excellence at all aspects of the game and his durability meant he would likely age the best of all the star SS. After 2019, I'd have been fine signing him to something like what he got. I wouldn't say 2020 changed my opinion -- I kinda give everybody a mulligan for 2020 -- but I can see where a team might have been skittish about the offensive drop. Most importantly I can see where a team might be sufficiently freaked about 2020 revenues, reduced 2021 revenues and an uncertain revenue future to not be so excited about Lindor at the contract he got. And in 2021 he's provided more fodder that maybe the offense is in decline although he has bounced back to SS average overall after that horrific start.

If I felt skittish about Lindor, I'd feel doubly skittish about Turner. But is that fair to Turner? He's been about a half-season less durable for 2017-21 but he has the same OPS+ and just 2 fewer WAR (so about 1 of those is the PT difference). Turner is a year older, not as good a defender but apparently a bit better baserunner. It's really pretty close and, if anything, Turner's bat is on the way up while Lindor's is on the way down. The defensive difference probably means it's more likely Turner will have to move off SS in his early 30s but his bat may have a better chance of carrying 3B or wherever. I wouldn't have thought it coming into the season but Turner probably does "deserve" an extension along the lines of 9/$225 (that includes the last arb year).

Anyway, Uncle Walt's Official SS Opinion-meter

Most talented: Tatis and Correa. Tatis has had trouble staying healthy, Correa has in the past but has been healthy for 2020-21 so far.

Most talented with durability: Lindor

Might be the best if not for bad defensive ratings: Bogaerts

Awfully darn good and durable, better than I think: Story, Turner

Damn good but with obvious concerns: Baez, Seager, Anderson

Given Lindor, X, Tatis and Anderson are all tied up ... I'd be willing to gamble on Correa, would be willing to go 7-8 years on Turner, I still don't really trust Story.

That Anderson buyout is working great for the White Sox. <$10 M next year then options at $13 and $14 then he can go FA at 32 which is a good time for a team to walk away or, if they do want him longer-term, those two options give them a lot of leverage in adding another 3 years to the deal this or next offseason.
   2. The Duke Posted: August 13, 2021 at 06:08 PM (#6034306)
Other than Lindor, I agree. I think the Mets will regret thirst deal much sooner than later. Having said that I thought he would’ve been non-tendered so what did I know. I feel like this will be a Heyward deal.

I like turner quite a bit more because his batting is getting better. Baez - I can’t get excited about him. He seems like all hat and no cattle to me. I really like Anderson.
   3. bookbook Posted: August 13, 2021 at 06:49 PM (#6034312)
I still believe in Seager
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 13, 2021 at 08:28 PM (#6034328)
The only issue with Seager is durability. A bit over 6 years service time by years end but only on 2500 PA. Adjusting for service time and that's about the same as Correa. The bats are about the same but the gloves aren't and Seager has missed time this year and is a year older. I'd certainly rather take him long-term than Baez or I think Anderson (I'm so used to ignoring Anderson...).

Baez's defensive cattle are for real, the power cattle are for real, his plate discipline doesn't even wear a hat and that could bring his productive career to a screeching halt once the bat speed drops a smidgen. But Anderson is pretty much the same time bomb. He doesn't walk either, even less often than Javy. He does make a lot more contact but plays much worse defense. Javy's got a very comfy career WAR lead but Anderson has clearly been better for 2020-21. Same baseball age. I don't expect Javy to get a super-contract but, from the team's value/$ perspective, he's not gonna beat Anderson at 3/$37.
   5. Rally Posted: August 13, 2021 at 11:14 PM (#6034348)
Other than Lindor, I agree. I think the Mets will regret thirst deal much sooner than later.

Understandable considering how much money it was. But I didn’t expect they’d start regretting it in April.
   6. Paul d mobile Posted: August 14, 2021 at 12:01 AM (#6034352)
Semien will also be a free agent, and has been exceptional.
   7. Adam Starblind Posted: August 14, 2021 at 09:47 AM (#6034372)
Lindor hit about as "well" compared to his career averages as Conforto, Smith, and McNeil. I haven't seen it discussed, but it looks like what they did to the ball this year hit some players harder than others, and I wonder if (a) there is something Citifield-specific going on that is sapping (left-handed?) power hitters; and/or (b) mlb will undo what they did to the ball (not specifically to benefit the Mets, obviously, unless Steve can make it worth their while).
   8. Bote Man Posted: August 15, 2021 at 01:27 AM (#6034465)
Pitcher's ligaments and flags fly forever! Now Nats fans get to settle in and watch the next generation learn by on-the-field training. Project Tank is well underway!
   9. Howie Menckel Posted: August 15, 2021 at 10:58 PM (#6034540)
wait, Bote Man?

   10. Bret Sabermatrician Posted: August 16, 2021 at 07:56 AM (#6034560)
No love for Dongsby Swanson?
   11. DCA Posted: August 16, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6034566)
Lindor hit about as "well" compared to his career averages as Conforto, Smith, and McNeil.

When I see this, my first thought is opposing pitching quality - something that is (a) random, and (b) constant for the team as a whole. Other team-constant factors include weather and equipment, but that would also affect the opposition.
   12. Adam Starblind Posted: August 16, 2021 at 12:01 PM (#6034578)
When I see this, my first thought is opposing pitching quality - something that is (a) random, and (b) constant for the team as a whole. Other team-constant factors include weather and equipment, but that would also affect the opposition.

Fair issues to raise. These guys have all been really crappy though.

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