'You win with star players': Phils, Turner agree to $300M deal

Former Nationals, Dodgers shortstop joins NL champs on 11-year contract

December 8th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Dave Dombrowski promised the Phillies would “push the needle” this offseason, and he made good on that promise.

The Phillies on Thursday announced they signed Trea Turner to an 11-year contract. Terms of the deal were not announced, but a source told MLB.com that it's for $300 million.

The deal sent a message to the Dodgers, Braves, Mets and the rest of the National League that Phillies managing partner John Middleton and the rest of the organization is not content to just win the NL pennant in 2022.

They want to finish the job.

“I really philosophically believe that you win with star players,” said Dombrowski, who declined to discuss specifics until Turner passes his physical. “Now, you can’t win with star players alone, but you can build around star players. I’ve really always had that belief. As I’ve observed, it’s been successful for the clubs that win.

“I had somebody tell me … 'Philosophically from an ownership perspective, we disagree with you. We don’t believe in star players. We believe in [well-rounded players].' I said, 'Well, that’s your belief, but usually I have found, wherever I’ve been … it’s been good star players that have won.'”

Turner, 29, is a superstar who can help the Phillies win it all. He has been one of baseball’s best shortstops and most dynamic players for years. Since he became a full-time starter with the Nationals in 2018, he has 24.9 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs. It is the seventh-best mark in the Major Leagues over that span, behind only Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, José Ramírez, Francisco Lindor and Alex Bregman.

Turner’s .489 slugging percentage is third behind Trevor Story (.513) and Corey Seager (.492) among shortstops with 2,000 or more plate appearances since 2016. He is the only player in the Majors with more than 90 home runs and 140 stolen bases from 2018-22.

The Phils began preparing for this moment months ago, when they asked one of their pro scouts to follow four impending free-agent shortstops during the regular season -- Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson. The front office convened after the World Series to discuss them, while seeking opinions from others internally and externally who knew them.

“We came up with what we thought was a working ranking order,” Dombrowski said.

Recently, the Phillies met face-to-face with each of the four.

“It’s important because if you’re going to spend those types of dollars, you really want to know the person inside and out,” Dombrowski said.

Bryson Stott will move from shortstop to second base, making room for the player Philadelphia always considered its top choice. The club showed it, as Turner is just the second player to sign a free-agent contract of 11 or more years (not counting contract extensions with current teams).

Bryce Harper’s 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phils is the other.

Turner, who will have a full no-trade clause in the deal, no doubt looked at the Phillies and saw himself moving from one World Series contender in the Dodgers to another. The Phils said every free agent they have met personally or on Zoom this offseason has mentioned the team's postseason run.

“A number of guys have used the phrase, ‘You could feel it through the TV,’” Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said.

It remains to be seen where Turner will hit in manager Rob Thomson’s lineup, but he gives Thomson options. Thomson hit Kyle Schwarber first and Rhys Hoskins second for most of the 2022 season. He could hit Turner at either spot in '23.

One potential lineup, when everybody is healthy (Harper might not return from Tommy John surgery until June or July):

1. Kyle Schwarber, LF
2. Trea Turner, SS
3. Bryce Harper, DH
4. J.T. Realmuto, C
5. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
6. Nick Castellanos, RF
7. Alec Bohm, 3B
8. Bryson Stott, 2B
9. Brandon Marsh, CF

So now what? The Phillies are essentially finished looking for position-player help, so they will shift their attention to starting pitching and the bullpen.

The Phils never entered the top-tier starting pitching market because they believe they already have solid 1-2 punch with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, with Ranger Suárez a capable No. 2 or 3. But on Tuesday night, the Phillies and right-hander Taijuan Walker agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract, pending a physical, a source told MLB.com. Walker, 30, will slot behind Wheeler, Nola and Suárez in Philadelphia's rotation, while a combination of left-handers Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sánchez and top pitching prospects like righty Andrew Painter will vie for the No. 5 job. 

Dombrowski said the Phils are unlikely to sign two free agents who rejected qualifying offers. Turner rejected his qualifying offer from Los Angeles, which means Philadelphia will forfeit its second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2023 MLB Draft, plus $1 million from the team's international bonus pool.

If the Phillies sign two players who reject qualifying offers, they also will forfeit their third- and sixth-highest remaining picks.

“I don’t think that we would have much of an appetite for that,” Dombrowski said.