We’ve seen plenty of younger players cashing in on long-term extensions in recent days. The Washington Nationals could follow suit and extend Trea Turner.
In recent days, several arbitration-eligible players have seemingly settled for cheaper long-term deals. Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner appears to be in a similar boat and could be a candidate to be extended soon.
Probably the most notable to get an extension was Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola, who signed a four-year, $45 million deal with a team option. This bought out his remaining three years of arbitration and one or two free agent years of a pitcher who seems to be in the ascendancy.
This offseason, we’ve also seen Luis Severino, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Whit Merrifield potentially sacrifice a free agent year or two in favor of a secure extension. Perhaps this is a knock-on effect of the stagnant free agent market this year, even for star players.
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Now, we can debate whether this is right or wrong with players on the backfoot leverage-wise, but it could be an opportune time for the Nats to lock down Turner in a similar fashion. He’s coming off of a solid season in which he posted a 4.1 bWAR while playing in all 162 games and continues to cement himself as one of the better shortstops in the game.
But with Turner, we’ve seen him perform at a much higher level in the past, so there’s still tantalizing potential to make the jump into the elite group of shortstops in the near future. So the Nationals could get him at a bargain rate if he continues to improve, just as the Phillies are hoping with Nola.
The shortstop still has four seasons of club control remaining, which could make it tricky, but there should be some middle ground. So with that in mind, from the Nats’ perspective, they would need to offer at least a five-year deal, and then likely tack on a team option, just as the others have done in this process.
Then comes the all-important annual average value. Polanco of the Minnesota Twins, who plays the same position netted just over $5 million AAV, though he has many more questions marks than the Nats’ shortstop. One extension that might be a closer comp is Jose Ramirez.
Ramirez was coming off a breakout season with the Cleveland Indians where he slashed .312/.363/.462 after a few years of inconsistency beforehand. The Indians extended him on a four-year, $26 million deal with two club options. Turners deserves more for his consistency, but that could be a good base structure.
So perhaps the Nationals could offer him a four-year, $44 million deal that begins at the start of 2020 as to not affect the precarious 2019 luxury tax figure, with a club option for $16 million. That would buy out one year of free agency and maybe a second if the team option is exercised while giving cost certainty for both sides.
Trea Turner appears to be the shortstop of the future for the Washington Nationals. They have the chance to capitalize on a strange market and potentially lock up a franchise cornerstone for a few more seasons.