How Turner went from PTBN to spark plug

January 8th, 2021

was already off the board when the Nationals made their first selection of the 2014 Major League Draft with the 18th pick, but they found a way to still get him on their roster. They’d just have to wait six months.

2014 was a busy year for Turner, to say the least. After concluding his third season at N.C. State, he was selected 13th overall by the Padres, competed in Short Season and Class A ball, earned the organization’s Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors, and had participated in the Arizona Fall League by the time the Winter Meetings were held that December in San Diego.

Not long after leaving California, the Nationals agreed to a multi-team trade with the Padres and Rays on Dec. 19 that sent Major and Minor League players to teams via cross-country moves, and put Turner’s future on a new path.

Washington dealt outfielder and Minor League lefty Travis Ott to Tampa Bay. The Rays traded left-hander José Castillo, catcher Ryan Hanigan, outfielder/first baseman Wil Myers and right-hander Gerardo Reyes to the Padres. The Padres moved infield prospect Jake Bauers, catcher René Rivera, righty Burch Smith to Tampa Bay -- and to the Nationals, they sent right-handed prospect and a player to be named later.

On June 14, 2015, that player became a 21-year-old Turner.

The lag in completion of the deal was due to a rule in which a player could not be officially traded for a year after he was drafted. That rule was changed as a result of this transaction.

"From the outset, this was a complex deal, but we thought it was one that would better our organization for the present as well as the long term,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said at the time. “That's always our goal. We look forward to getting Trea into our Minor League system."

Turner wouldn’t spend much time in the Minors. He made his big league debut on Aug. 21, 2015 and appeared in 27 games for the Nats that season -- the beginning of his career as a centerpiece of the franchise. In his six seasons in Washington, Turner has become the team’s all-time leader in stolen bases, received Most Valuable Player Award votes in 2020 and has posted a career .296/.353/.480 slash line.

And what about the other players traded to/from Washington in the deal?

Ross made his Major League debut for the Nats on June 6, 2015. After splitting time as a starter and reliever -- including a spot start for Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the ‘19 World Series -- Ross is in line to earn a starting job in ‘21.

Souza played in Tampa Bay from 2015-17 before being traded to the D-backs in February of ‘18. He sustained a serious left knee injury that caused him to miss the entire ‘19 season, and made a comeback with the Cubs last year. Souza was designated for assignment in September after appearing in 11 games.

Ott, selected by the Nationals in the 25th round of the 2013 Draft, reached Triple-A with the Rays in ‘18.