Washington Nationals: Revisiting the Joe Ross and Trea Turner heist
By Blake Finney
It’s been four years since the Washington Nationals made one of the most one-sided trades in their history by practically stealing Trea Turner and Joe Ross.
Four years ago to the day, the Washington Nationals pulled off one of the best trades in franchise history. In a three-team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres, they were able to acquire pitcher Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner, setting them up well for the future.
The trade was even able to engineer a rule change, as at the time, teams weren’t allowed to trade players within 12 months of being drafted. Therefore, Turner, who was drafted that summer was the worst kept secret as the player to be named later in the trade.
But back to the deal itself. To acquire Ross and Turner, all the Nationals had to give up was Steven Souza Jr. and a low-level minor league lefty Travis Ott. That allowed former AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers to go to San Diego in the three-way deal.
At first glance, it seems like the Nationals and Padres were the winners here, with the Rays losing out, but it may not be quite that simple. While the Rays don’t necessarily have a headline name to show for the deal, they added a lot of prospect depth in the end. Remember, they only traded away Myers in this deal.
Souza went on to be a productive enough player for the Rays in his three seasons in Tampa Bay, sporting a 107 wRC+ and 6.0 fWAR. Solid is the best way to describe his performance, but the Rays then flipped him this past offseason for a few nice prospects to give the original deal some more legs.
Souza was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in February 2018, and because baseball loves oddities, it was also a three-team deal. In return for Souza, Tampa Bay received Anthony Banda, Nick Solak and two players to be named later, who ended up being Sam McWilliams and Colin Poche.
McWilliams was designated for assignment earlier this offseason though, so that leaves three prospects remaining. All of the three currently rank in the top 30 Rays prospects according to MLB.com so there’s plenty to still be excited about for Rays fans on top of three good years from Souza.
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As it turns out, it’s the Padres that are probably doing the worst out of the deal, despite getting the biggest name in the deal at the time. In his four seasons in San Diego, Wil Myers has recorded a 111 wRC+ and 6.9 fWAR, both of which only slightly higher than Souza’s in one more season.
The Padres do at least have Myers to be a building block for the future and a now experienced head to help them in their rebuilding phase as he is under team control for five more seasons. However, he hasn’t quite turned out to be the superstar we all thought when the deal was made, swinging the favor of the trade elsewhere.
Finally, we come to the Nationals side of things and just as we all expected, they’ve easily come out of this the best so far and potentially still to come too.
By fWAR standards, Trea Turner is by far and away the best piece in the trade, which isn’t much of a surprise. He boasts a 10.9 fWAR in the majors since the deal, while Joe Ross comes in at 3.8, meaning together they have over double either the Padres or Rays current fWAR output from the deal. Pretty impressive.
The Nats also have three years of control on Ross and four more years on Turner, so even if the Rays prospects turn out well, the Nationals are still likely to come off with the daylight robbery it appeared to be at the time.
There are a few candidates for the honor, but this trade is likely the standout when it comes to best trades by the Washington Nationals. With Turner and Ross still coming into their primes, it has potential to be even better for the team. Tip of the cap to Mike Rizzo.