He’s the fastest starting position player in the league. He’s a weapon offensively and defensively. He does his business without needing the attention. Trea Turner is the best pickup any team in the MLB could have made as a mid-season splash, and he’s slid his way into the Dodgers lineup at the perfect time.
Prior to the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline, the Los Angeles made the move many fans asked for but never believed was possible when they acquired Max Scherzer and Trea Turner for top prospects Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray. Lower-tier prospects Gerardo Carrillo and Donovan Casey were all shipped back to Washington in exchange for the future Hall of Fame pitcher and the All-Star shortstop.
While much attention initially was focused on Scherzer headed to Los Angeles, it almost felt like Turner was more of an added bonus in the deal. The reality is that Trea Turner was the key reason why the Dodgers were willing to pull the trigger on their two top prospects. The 37-year-old Scherzer is set to become a free agent after his contract expires at the end of the year and is a Scott Boras client, so an extension would be difficult. It remains to be seen whether or not the Dodgers will look to extend Scherzer after the season. The Dodgers will certainly have their work cut out for them this winter with Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen among others set to hit free agency.
Trea Turner will be a free agent following the 2022 regular season. While many Dodgers fans may believe this trade was made as a response to the Dodgers inconsistent performances at the plate throughout much of the summer, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman likely made the move to give the team leverage moving forward as well. In the near future, the Dodgers will need to decide whether or not they should extend Cody Bellinger, Julio Urias, and Max Muncy (free agents following the 2023 season), and possibly even Walker Buehler (free agent following the 2024 season). The addition of Trea Turner allows Friedman to pick and choose which players he will want to extend while having position flexibility (Turner can play shortstop, second base, and in the outfield). With the uncertainty surrounding Trevor Bauer, the addition of Scherzer was the added bonus.
Statistically, Turner has been a phenom in 2021. With the Nationals, Turner posted a slash line of .322/.369/.521 and an OPS of .890. Turner stole 21 bases in the process while being caught only three times. The power is one thing that Turner has stepped his game up with, slugging 18 homers in 388 at-bats. Turner has never cracked more than 20 homers in a single season, however, in 2020 he would have been on pace for 33 homers in a 162-game season, hitting 12 homers in 59 of the 60 games played in the shortened season. With the power recently on display, Turner will help improve the Dodgers offensively across the board with his five-tool talent scouts had raved about for years.
While the rival Padres continue to lead MLB in stolen bases, the Dodgers rank among the league’s worst at acquiring additional bags. Trea Turner is the element LA has been missing at the top of the lineup. Between the nagging hip injury Mookie Betts has been dealing with that sent him to the Injured List and the lack of speed across the board with the rest of the lineup, Turner is a need. According to Statcast, Turner ranks as the fastest player in the league alongside Jorge Mateo and Tim Locastro (prior to his season-ending injury) with a 30.7 feet per second sprint speed. Gavin Lux, who is currently on a rehab assignment, ranks 35th in the league with a 29.1 sprint speed. Chris Taylor and Luke Raley are the only other Dodgers that find themselves ranked in the top 150 players for sprint speed. This was a need that Andrew Friedman addressed perfectly.
Since coming over to the Dodgers, Trea Turner has already proved to play a key role in the lineup. With Mookie Betts out, he is even more vital to the production taking place at the top of the lineup. The North Carolina State product is hitting .289 in his first ten games as a Dodger, scoring five runs and stealing a base already in the process. The Dodgers were in need of a catalyst at the top of the order and Turner is already providing the energy and speed necessary to get the lineup going. While the health of Betts is a concern, Turner takes the pressure off of the Dodgers from relying on Betts to make a speedy recovery. The depth is impressive across the board for Los Angeles, especially with Seager and Bellinger back from the Injured List.
While the addition of Trea Turner doesn’t lock up a World Series ring, it does give the Dodgers yet another key asset that could help them repeat as world champions. Turner himself has won a World Series title in his young career with Scherzer back in 2019 as a member of the Nationals. Turner now has a chance to help lead a Dodgers unit that desperately needed a consistent bat on another run to the Fall Classic. While players do have to adjust with a change of scenery, expect Trea Turner to be nothing short of a star the Dodgers were wishing upon all year long.