Losing Trea Turner sucks, but the franchise is finally looking toward the future.
Trading Trea Turner was unexpected and no one has to enjoy ownership’s decision, but this trade had to happen. The second Peter Gammons reported last week that the two sides were unlikely to reach a long-term deal, the writing was on the wall.
A few days after Gammon’s tweet, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo went on a popular D.C. sports radio show The Junkies and explained that this wasn’t true. He then added that Turner would only be traded if the team was blown away by a trade.
Ruiz and Gray are the Dodger’s top two prospects and the prize acquisitions for Washington. Both are MLB-ready and will be pivotal parts of the Nationals roster starting next season. Baseball America ranked them as the number 16 and 59 prospects in baseball respectively.
In 52 games this year at Triple-A, Ruiz is hitting .311, with 16 homers, 45 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.012. In years past, the Dodgers have made Ruiz off-limits in trade talks, but being blocked by Will Smith and with the Nationals offering two superstars it was worth the cost.
Josiah Gray will immediately slot into the Nationals rotation and already made his MLB this season with the Dodgers. In two appearances, he is 0-0, with a 6.75 ERA, and 13 strikeouts. But in 15.2 innings this year at Triple-A, he was 1-1, with a 2.87 ERA, and 22 strikeouts.
Carillo has a live arm and could slot into the back of the bullpen. He has a 4.25 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings at Double-A. Casey is hitting .296, with a .824 OPS and 102 strikeouts at Double-A. His swing and miss could be a problem. Both have potential, but are still a few years away from contributing.
LA also agreed to pay the remainder of Scherzer and Turner’s contracts which brings us full circle.
The front office once again saw a chance to cut costs and didn’t fully maximize Turner and Scherzer’s trade stock. That’s not to say Ruiz and Gray aren’t franchise building blocks. They are and they will absolutely be pivotal in the National’s future success.
While the return could have been better, the franchise ultimately made the correct decision. Turner had been unable to agree to a long-term extension and was going to be 29 by the time he reached free agency. Francisco Lindor’s $300+ million contract extension reset the shortstop market and didn’t help the Nats.
Losing him still hurts. Turner was acquired in arguably Mike Rizzo’s best trade back in 2015. Since 2016, Turner has been an instrumental part of the Nats lineup. He broke into the bigs and flashed his blazing speed. He stole 33 bases during his rookie season while hitting .342, with 13 homers, 40 RBIs, and an OPS of .937. That year he finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Starting in 2017, Turner became the Nationals starter at shortstop and never relinquished the job. From 2017-2019, Turner averaged 41 stolen bases and was able to fuel the top of the Nats lineup. Unfortunately, he had been unable to put everything together at the plate on a consistent basis.
During the team’s 2019 World Series run, Turner had one of the most underrated homers in franchise history. Against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card game, Brandon Woodruff was unhittable. He baffled the National’s bats and put the Brewers in prime position to win.
Down 3-0 in the bottom of the third, Turner crushed a solo shot to put the Nats on the board and gave the fanbase life. While that game will be remembered for the team’s incredible eighth-inning comeback, Turner’s solo shot helped the Nationals regain needed morale.
During the 2020 season, Trea Turner finally broke out and turned into an MVP candidate. In 59 games, he hit .335, with 12 homers, 41 RBIs, and an OPS of .982. The speedster proved this season that last year wasn’t a fluke and is in the midst of the best season of his career. In 96 games, he is hitting .322, with 18 homers, 49 RBIs, and an OPS of .890. He is second in the NL among shortstops in bWAR with 4.1.
The speedster was an instant fan favorite and was the engine that drove the Nationals offense. He will surely be missed, but the front office has decided to finally look toward the future. With a bottom-tier farm system and one of the oldest rosters in baseball, the Nationals window was closing fast. Patrick Corbin’s and Stephen Strasburg’s albatross contracts haven’t helped.
But now the Nationals have a new core to look forward to. Thank you for everything, Trea Turner!