NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. - While a number of Washington Nationals’ prospects have been discussed in trade chatter during this week’s Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center, including Lucas Giolito, Victor Robles and Reynaldo Lopez, according to various reports, the one player that is said to be a non-starter in any discussions is Trea Turner.
The Nationals’ 23-year-old infielder/outfielder debuted in the majors in 2015 and made an impact right away when he was called up for good last season.
Turner, a 2014 San Diego Padres’ first-round pick, acquired by the Nationals in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014, put up a .342/.370/.567 line, 14 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 73 games and 324 PAs in 2016 and put himself in the running for NL Rookie of the Year in less than half a season.
He also made the transition to center field relatively smoothly after being drafted and developed as a shortstop, though where he plays in 2017 might be determined by the deals the Nationals are able to strike this winter.
On Day 1 of the 2016 Winter Meetings, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked about Turner’s flexibility as far as where he can play as big benefit that allows the Nats to consider all kinds of options as they try to bolster their lineup.
“The flexibility that [Turner] and several other players on the roster give us is important,” Rizzo said.
“It allows the pool of talent to expand, the tradable players, we’re not locked in to one position. The free agent market allows us to expand that market and go after a diverse skill set of players.
“Turner’s flexibility, [Bryce] Harper’s flexibility, the amount of different positions that each can play, the amount of players that we have on the roster with options, all that stuff comes into play, and it’s all about the roster organization and construction.”
When Rizzo spoke to reporters on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, he was asked about Turner’s place in the organization and what makes him so valuable that the Nationals reportedly won’t consider including him in any deals.
“He’s a good young player,” Rizzo said matter of factly.
“He’s a great talent and guy that is controllable and really performs well. It’s a very small sample, but he’s shown that — last year he energized us really well, he’s got a great skill set and he’s a good ballplayer and he impacts our roster.”
Though it was a small sample size in the majors last season, after a meteoric rise up through the minor league ranks, Rizzo said he was able to get a good idea of what Turner has to offer the Nationals.
“I think what we learned is how quickly he adapts to different obstacles and different things he had to,” Rizzo said.
“Here’s a guy who performed extremely well for the first time that he has ever been in the big leagues and learning a new position that he’s never played before. Those things are very unique in a talent such as him and we see a bright future for him.”
Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker too pointed to Turner’s ability to adjust as a major factor in his early-career success this season, telling reporters coaches love to work with someone like the young infielder/outfielder.
“He’s been unfazed so far,” Baker said during the NLDS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He’s come here and just played and that’s what I urged him to do: just play. Just play ball the way God’s given you the ability to play. So far he’s handled it great. Even his mistakes he’s handled it great.”
“He’s learned from his mistakes,” Baker continued.
“You don’t see him making the same mistake too often, especially in a short period of time. We don’t have to tell him things over and over and over. That’s what frustrates a coach is when you have to tell a young player a number of times in a short period of time. So far he’s been outstanding.”