Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner spoke with reporters after Monday’s first official team workout at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, and naturally the pending free agent was asked about a possible contract extension with Los Angeles.
From Juan Toribio at MLB.com:
“I can have a talk if somebody wants to have a talk,” Turner said. “If not, I’m ready to play and ready to go out there and do what I’ve done for the last however many years. Like I said in the past, I’ll have talks. But if they’re not going to happen or if they don’t or they do, I’m not worried about them.”
That’s a pretty standard first-day-of-camp answer, fairly noncommittal. For what it’s worth, Turner also characterized the negotiations to date with the Dodgers as “nothing of substance,” per Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times.
More of the same came Sunday, when president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said contract extension talks will be a part of the discussion with Turner, per Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic, including this rather boilerplate quote:
“We’re looking at all times to figure out how we can make ourselves better, short-term, long-term … I think anything and everything that falls under that umbrella is a priority to figure out how to auger time out to do.”
Turner is a free agent after the 2022 season, but before then is eligible for salary arbitration. Back in October, the MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections tabbed Turner to earn $19.8 million this year. The deadline for players and teams to exchange salary figures for arbitration was moved to March 22, per the new collective bargaining agreement.
That puts Turner in the same spot Francisco Lindor was before the 2021 season, after getting traded to the Mets. Lindor signed a 10-year, $341 million contract with New York before the season.
Turner’s former teammate, Corey Seager, cashed in this offseason, back in December when he signed a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Rangers. Fellow shortstop Carlos Correa is the top prize on this year’s free agent market, so it’s understandable if Turner is anticipating a huge payday not too far from now.
Key for Turner — with Seager now in Texas — is moving back to shortstop, his main position with the Nationals. Last year Turner was great, hitting .328/.375/.536 with 28 home runs and 32 stolen bases, leading the league in FanGraphs WAR (6.9), hits (195), total bases (319), steals, and batting average (.328), all while switching positions midseason from shortstop to second base after getting traded from Washington to Los Angeles. Turner finished fifth in National League MVP voting.
"We're going to miss [Corey] but for me, I'm excited to play shortstop again. It feels so much more natural." Trea Turner with @kirsten_watson on returning to his preferred position for the #Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/Ly8rKzJboC— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) March 15, 2022
“Yeah, for sure,” Turner said, acknowledging it is a welcome change to be back at his preferred position. “We’re gonna miss him. But for me individually, I’m excited to play shortstop again. It feels so much more normal and natural. I felt like I was almost playing left-handed at second base.
“It was just a little awkward or weird to learn the position on the fly. I feel good back at short. It feels normal. Today was fun.”
Turner will likely cash in whether he signs an extension with the Dodgers or what until free agency. But how he does relative to his recently rich shortstop brethren might depend on a few factors.
In 2023, Turner will turn 30, older than Lindor (28), Seager (28), and Correa (27) are this season, so maybe Turner might not get a 10-year deal. But if he puts up a season anything like last year, Turner will get paid handsomely, by some team.