Before the coronavirus put the baseball season on pause this spring, the Nationals and star shortstop Trea Turner engaged in extension talks, general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed to reporters (including Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington). Of course, the pandemic introduced plenty of economic uncertainty for all 30 clubs. Nevertheless, Rizzo expressed an interest in revisiting those discussions once he gets an opportunity to examine the organization’s financial “landscape” (via Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post).
The 27-year-old Turner has done nothing to dissuade the front office’s interest in keeping him in the fold long-term. He’s somewhat quietly putting up a fabulous season, hitting .368/.421/.632 with nine home runs and five stolen bases in 171 plate appearances. While he obviously won’t sustain a .393 batting average on balls in play, Turner has seemingly turned a corner offensively. He’s striking out at a career-low 14.6% clip and has hit significantly fewer pop-ups this season. For his career, Turner’s a .297/.354/.479 hitter (118 wRC+) with generally average defense at shortstop, positioning him as a 4-5 win player per 600 plate appearances.
Turner and the Nationals agreed on a $7.45MM salary to avoid arbitration this offseason, his second year of eligibility. The former Super Two player is currently slated to go through the process twice more (and figures to earn a nice raise this winter) before reaching free agency after 2022. His first would-be free agent year would be his age-30 season.
More immediately, Rizzo says he plans to turn his attention to the managerial chair. Skipper Dave Martinez is amidst the final guaranteed season of his three-year contract, although the club does possess an option on his services for 2021. Rizzo made clear today he hopes not to have to exercise that option, instead preferring to hammer out a long-term extension with Martinez (via Jessica Camerato of MLB.com). “That’s the plan going forward,” Rizzo said. “See if we can get something done (and) negotiate a longer-term deal with him that goes beyond just picking up the option.” The GM himself just inked an extension yesterday that’ll keep him in D.C. though 2023.
The Nationals have had something of a rocky history with managers, with the Lerner family ownership group notoriously reluctant to commit to skippers on long-term deals. Martinez, though, is the only manager to have led the franchise to a World Series title, so it’d be a shock to see the parties not eventually come to terms on an extension.