The Nationals entered July just two games out of first place in the NL East. Since then, the Nats have gone 6-16, hit hard by injuries to Kyle Schwarber and Stephen Strasburg. On top of the injuries, Patrick Corbin has struggled mightily and Starlin Castro is out of action due to an alleged domestic violence incident. With all of that, it became quite apparent for Washington that it was time to sell.
What wasn’t apparent was that selling also meant a trade of superstar shortstop Trea Turner. The 28-year-old has one more year of control after this season, so a trade before Friday’s 4 PM deadline could be the peak of his value.
It’s a bit of a head-scratcher that the Nats would not want to extend one of the best shortstops in baseball, who is still in his prime, but the two sides have reportedly made it clear that an extension is not going to be agreed upon.
The Nationals could wait to deal Turner in the offseason if the right opportunity presents itself, but taking notes from the Francisco Lindor situation and now Trevor Story, the Nationals would be smart to move him now. The teams that I throw in here as potential suitors have to check several boxes.
First, they need to have the prospect capital to acquire Turner. Second, they need the financial flexibility to extend him. Lastly, the move has to make sense for the team’s perceived competitive window.
Mariners’ Gm Jerry Dipoto has the assets to make a major splash. With baseball’s best farm system, Seattle could go get Trea Turner without giving up Jared Kelenic or Julio Rodriguez. The M’s are surprisingly eight games over .500 as we enter the final months of the season, with much to look forward to in terms of franchise pieces coming together.
Reigning Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis has been lost for nearly the entire season, top prospect Jared Kelenic has struggled and their other top prospect Julio Rodriguez should be big league ready next year. Add Logan Gilbert’s impressive debut, Yusei Kikuchi’s improvements and catcher Cal Raleigh’s breakthrough in the minors and the future in Seattle is promising.
I didn’t even mention J.P. Crawford’s break out, which could be the biggest deal, because in a trade for Trea Turner, Crawford would no doubt be heading out of town.
Though the Mariners are not one to delve out massive contracts frequently, the team is in a good position to do so next season with Turner. Kyle Seager’s seven-year, $100 million deal ends with a club option for $15 million next season, which will almost surely be declined. Clearing the $18 million that Seager is making this season off the books could make a Turner extension more palatable for Dipoto and the Mariner higher ups. Especially with virtually zero financial obligations in 2022.
Mariners get: Trea Turner
Nationals get: J.P. Crawford, Noelvi Marte, Brandon Williamson
New York Yankees
Despite all of their struggles, the Yankees somehow sit only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card. The most obvious spot for New York to upgrade is at shortstop. Gleyber Torres has been abysmal offensively (.675 OPS, 92 wRC+) and has possibly been worse on defense. While concerning, Torres is just 24-years-old and a move to second base could satisfy the defensive issues as he tries to get things going at the plate again.
The problem for the Yankees is that there is not a clear way to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Then again, you are the New York Yankees! How bad do you want it? The revenue of one playoff series could offset the tax hit from acquiring Turner this season, and you can find a way to get back under the tax limit for next season.
Adding a true lead-off hitter to this Yankees lineup would do wonders. Turner has turned into a viable power threat as well (30 HR in his last 155 games). That will likely be further aided by the short porches of Yankee Stadium. You could argue that there is not an attainable player in baseball that can satisfy more needs for the Yankees than Trea Turner.
Acquiring Turner will be a big blow to the Yankees farm system, but the system has improved this year thanks to many prospects making big leaps.
Yankees: Trea Turner, Kyle Finnegan
Nationals: Oswald Peraza, Luis Medina, Estevan Florial, and Trevor Hauver
St. Louis Cardinals
I’ll be honest, it was hard to think of a third option that fits the aforementioned criteria. The Braves and Marlins would make sense, but it is incredibly unlikely that the Nats would want to deal a player of Turner’s caliber within the division.
The Cardinals are a team that I expect to hold at the deadline. Their pitching is razor thin, with ace Jack Flaherty reportedly eyeing a mid-August return. St. Louis went big in the offseason, trading for star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has a $35 million player option at the end of this season. Pitching reinforcements would absolutely help the Cards, but a player like Trea Turner could make their offense one of the most stacked and athletic in baseball.
It has been a tough year for the Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong, sporting a .205/.299/.402 slash line in 72 games. The 27-year-old has largely struggled since hitting 30 homers in 2019, posting just an 86 wRC+ and 0.6 WAR in last year’s abbreviated season as well.
DeJong will turn 28 by season’s end and the Cardinals may feel that the clock is ticking on him figuring it out in St. Louis. Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt present a pretty steep financial obligation next year, but the Cardinals could also clear up nearly $60 million at season’s end.
Matt Carpenter ($18.5M), Andrew Miller ($12M), Carlos Martinez (11.5M with $17M Club Option in 2022), Yadier Molina ($9M), and Adam Wainwright ($8M) could all feasibly be gone. If the team trades Paul DeJong as a subsequent move or as part of the Turner deal, that would open up another $4 million as well. There are definitely paths for St. Louis to clear enough money for Turner.
Cardinals: Trea Turner
Nationals: Paul DeJong, Nolan Gorman, Masyn Winn, Tink Hence