PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper kicked off Philadelphia’s first recruiting pitch over the summer when the injured All-Star used a guest stint in the broadcast booth to defend future free agent and former Washington teammate Trea Turner.
“Trea Turner is my favorite player in the league,” Harper said. “Not even close.”
Harper and Turner have been reunited by the National League champion Phillies for the upcoming season and beyond. Turner’s 11-year, $300 million contract with the Phillies was finalized Thursday, a deal that will bring the 29-year-old shortstop and 2021 NL batting champion into his 40s.
A long-term risk, perhaps, for the Phillies, but an owner John Middleton and president Dave Dombrowski were ready to take with the Phillies’ championship window open for the next few seasons. Harper still has nine years left on his 11-year, $330 million free agent contract, though he could miss at least two months as he recovers from elbow surgery.
Turner can certainly help stabilize a roster that lost a combined no-hitter to the Houston Astros in the World Series and lost in six games – and likely from the top of the order, toppling the NL home run champion Kyle Schwarber down a spot or two.
Schwarber, who batted 200 times, stole a career-high 10 bases. Turner, however, led the league in steals twice and had 27 last season.
“He stole a lot of bases last year. He’s coming back there,” Turner said with a laugh. “I don’t know if I want to kick him out of there.”
Turner hit .298 with 21 home runs and a career-high 100 RBI this year in his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also scored 101 points.
“We imagined playing with Bryce and Schwarber and a lot of these guys on the team now,” Turner said at Citizens Bank Park. “It just seemed like a lot of things were adding up and pointing us in that direction.”
Many things. Like money. Turner receives salaries of $27,272,727 in each of the next 10 seasons and $27,272,730 in 2033. He will also make an annual contribution of $100,000 to Phillies charities. His deal includes a full no-trade clause.
Turner and his family met Dombrowski, general manager Sam Fuld and manager Rob Thomson last month in Florida. Turner had other suitors and turned down at least one richer offer to sign with Philadelphia.
“This place is fun to play,” Turner said. “I watched a lot of playoff games and this place was great.”
Dombrowski played down the decision to spend so much money on Turner, especially in his 30s when players are traditionally on the downside of their careers.
“I think sometimes you have to tell the difference between a normal big league player and an elite athlete,” Dombrowski said. “I think there are differences in that as well. We’ve done a lot of research in that regard. An elite athlete can outlast performance-wise than, say, other individuals.”
Bigger bases and restrictions on defensive positioning coming to the game next year have likely improved the free agent market for Turner, as those are two changes that make his physical skills and defensive versatility more valuable.
He turned down a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers in November, joining a stellar group of free agent shortstops that also included Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson.
Turner broke into the majors with Washington in 2015. The two-time All-Star hit .300 with 192 interceptions in more than six seasons with the Nationals, winning the World Series in 2019.
Turner and right-handed ace Max Scherzer were traded to the Dodgers as part of a multiplayer deal at the 2021 trade deadline. Turner hit .338 with 10 home runs and 11 interceptions in the streak, and Los Angeles got away with it. qualified for the NL Championship Series before being eliminated by Atlanta.
Turner is a .302 hitter with 124 homers, 434 RBIs and 230 steals in 849 games. He spent most of his career at shortstop, but he also made starts at second base and center field.
He would earn $50,000 each for making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove, or earning a Silver Slugger. He would receive $500,000 for winning an MVP award, $50,000 for second place and $25,000 for third. Turner would also earn $100,000 for a World Series MVP award and $50,000 for an NLCS MVP designation.
Turner and Harper played with the Washington Nationals from 2015 to 2018. Harper, who won an NL MVP award with each team, texted Turner during the offseason and served as a sounding board for questions he had on Philly.
Turner had one on Thursday: Where’s the best place to eat? He will be 11 years old to taste all the cuisine of Philadelphia.
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