Before a career of getting it dirty, Trea dons Phils jersey for first time

December 8th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Trea Turner has 11 years to get dirty, so Thursday at Citizens Bank Park he put on his crisp, clean, new No. 7 Phillies jersey.

He skipped the cap.

“I don’t want to mess with my hair,” Turner joked.

“He called a couple of days ago and I missed him,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “I called him back and he missed me. He said, ‘I’m getting a haircut so I look good for the press conference.’”

Turner signed an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Phillies, who fulfilled their November promise to “push the needle” following their wildly fun run to the National League pennant. Turner has been one of baseball’s best players for years. His arrival improves the Phillies’ chances to return to the World Series next year and beyond.

A few takeaways from Thursday:

Why Philly?

A source told that the Padres offered Turner $342 million, meaning he left $42 million on the table to come to Philadelphia.

Some folks might say, what’s the difference between $300 million and $342 million.

The answer is simple: $42 million!

“Money wasn’t necessarily the number one option for us,” Turner said. “Obviously, it plays a part. We just pictured ourselves here. I pictured myself in this uniform. [My wife Kristen] pictured living here and having family come and visit. We pictured playing with Bryce [Harper] and [Kyle] Schwarber and a lot of those guys on the team now. [Hitting coach] Kevin Long … it seemed like a lot of those things added up and pointed us in this direction, and we were excited about it.

“This place is fun to play. We watched a lot of the playoff games. This place was rockin’. Just a lot of things pointed in this direction. We felt really comfortable and really happy.”

Dombrowski, general manager Sam Fuld and manager Rob Thomson flew to Florida last month to meet the Turners at their home. Dombrowski told Turner then that he was their No. 1 choice to play shortstop. But Dombrowski was honest and said he had to keep his options open.

Turner respected that.

“I told them, I’m going to be honest with you -- all I ask is that you be honest with me,” he said. “I didn’t really care to play the games and all that.”

The Phillies left and the Turners talked. That’s when the real talk happens, right? After the company leaves.

“I know my wife was very excited, because growing up in Flemington, N.J., [about one hour] from here, so from a family aspect I knew she was super excited,” Turner said. “She told me time and time again that she was going to leave the baseball side of it up to me, so I asked the baseball questions, but the family side was a lot of her doing. We were kind of teammates in this. We weighed all of the pros and cons, and the family aspect was a big factor for us. You learn that through these meetings -- you learn how much family means to these guys, to John [Middleton], to Bryce, to Schwarber, and other players with kids on the team. You ask them about their experiences. … It added up.”

The lineup

Schwarber called Turner on Thursday and talk of the lineup came up. Schwarber hit leadoff last year, his preferred spot.

“I don’t know if I want to kick him out of there,” Turner said. “I don’t really have a preference. Truthfully, I don’t really care.”

Thomson hinted that Turner could start the season hitting first, while Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery. It would allow the Phillies to utilize Schwarber’s power in the middle of the lineup. But once Harper returns in the summer, Schwarber could be back in the top spot because Thomson wants to separate his two big lefty sluggers with right-handed hitters.

Eleven years is a long time

Turner’s contract runs through his age 41 season. It’s a risk, but the Phillies are betting on a big payoff early (i.e. a World Series championship) to offset the possibility of a drop in production toward the end.

“There’s no exact crystal ball,” Dombrowski said. “But you spend a lot of time looking at the individual and the talent that’s involved. Sometimes you have to differentiate between a normal big league player and an elite athlete. I do think there's some difference in that regard. An elite athlete can last longer at their performance level than, say, other individuals can.”

In other words, Dombrowski is betting on a star.

“I bet on myself all the time,” Turner said. “That’s why me and my family are in this situation. I’m a competitor. I hate losing, whether it’s a board game, whatever it might be, I don’t like losing.

“So I think I’m going to compete for as long as I possibly can, and at the highest level I can, and I’ll just bet on myself every step of the way. … So I don’t know what it’s going to look like, I don’t plan too far ahead — other than this contract — I try to focus on the day. And I think focusing on what’s in front of you will help you in that long run.”