Excluding the Max Scherzer signing, the Nationals’ biggest acquisition of the offseason so far has been Trea Turner, the young shortstop and potential Ian Desmond replacement who was acquired in a three team deal with San Diego and Tampa Bay this winter. Though Turner is still officially the “player to be named later,” it’s all but certain that he was the final piece in the trade that involved ten other players.
It may surprise some Nationals fans, then, that Turner arrived in Peoria for Padres spring training earlier this week, per MLB.com. Turner was added as a non-roster invitee for San Diego.
This is all due to one of baseball’s rules, specifically rule 3(B)(6), which states that a draftee cannot be traded for a full year after signing with a club. Turner’s contract was signed on June 13, 2014, so until a full year has passed, the Padres cannot really deal him. Which explains, of course, why Turner’s name was left off of the paperwork submitted to the league when the Padres and Nationals agreed to the trade.
It’s a wacky rule, to be sure, and one that initially left a bad taste in the mouth of Turner and his representation. Shortly after the deal was done, Jeff Berry of CAA, who represents Turner, told FoxSports.com that the trade was “unconscionable” and that they would “vigorously pursue all available courses of action to remedy this situation,” because it left Turner stuck for six months with a team that had essentially disposed of him already.
For now, though, it seems the soon-to-be National has managed to move forward. Per Berry’s statement, “Trea has put this matter behind him and is focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization.” Turner has echoed those sentiments, saying he’s “happy to be back playing baseball.”
“I’m happy to be back playing baseball. My goal is always to play at the highest level I can.” – Trea Turner
So what should Nationals fans make of all this? While it’s upsetting that MLB’s rules preclude Turner from joining the team that he will (hopefully) be a major part of moving forward, the fact that the Padres have brought Turner to camp is actually quite encouraging. Even if San Diego simply did it to avoid the headache of a grievance hearing, it’s nice to see that they’re still doing something to further the development of a player that they have no true vested interest in.
Per the Padres’ General Manager AJ Preller, Turner will be treated “like any other Minor League player,” which means he will join one of San Diego’s affiliates (high-A Lake Elsinore seems most likely) at the start of the season until June, which is when he will make his way east to join the Nats’ farm system.
So while the delay in the Nationals getting their hands on Turner is frustrating, it will happen shortly. Until then, Nats fans at least have a reason to keep an eye on the Padres this spring.