Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez praised Trea Turner’s willingness to take on a leadership role on the field and in the clubhouse throughout the 2020 campaign, and again when he spoke about the 27-year-old shortstop over the final weekend of the 60-game MLB season.
“Honestly, I think he’s more open, he communicates a lot more,” the manager explained.
“You see him on the field talking to Luis García or Carter Kieboom or J-Hay [Josh Harrison], and positioning and all that stuff.
“That’s something that he took it upon himself to be a little bit more vocal this year, and even in the clubhouse.
“He’s going to get really good in the future about just taking control of different situations and having these conversations and having tough conversations when he needs to with his teammates, but he’s been tremendous, I can’t say enough about what he did this year and how he went out there and perceived everything.
“I’m proud of him. He didn’t start off very well, but he battled and he came back and he had such an unbelievable year.”
“I started off a little slow but then stuck with it and kind of took off after that,” Turner said at the end of what ended up being a .335/.394/.588, 15 double, four triple, 12 home run, and 12 stolen base season in which he played in 59 of the club’s 60 games, and made 259 plate appearances, over which he was worth a team-leading 2.7 fWAR.
As for his growth as a leader on the field and in the clubhouse?
“I’m not very vocal,” Turner said. “For me I’ve always tried to kind of lead by example in my play.
“Just going out there and competing and that standpoint, but everyone once in a while I think you do need to talk, especially if you’re in the middle of the field, and just playing every day. I feel like your voice is important, so I try to balance it, and I try not to talk too much, but I also try to help out especially young guys when I think they need it.
“I’ll sit in the cage with people and talk about hitting with them. I do things more just on a personal level more so than a rah-rah level but I think as my career evolves, I think I’ll just try to take advantage of opportunities and helping out teammates if they want it and if they don’t, then I’m here for good job support I guess.
“And I think you just balance that.”
Earlier in the season, Turner had talked about how he viewed his role as a leader.
“Kind of do my job,” Turner said, “... speak when I need to, keep my mouth shut when I need to, and just work hard and try to compete and help those guys around me.”
The players that are around the shortstop, GM and President of Baseball Ops Mike Rizzo told reporters over the final weekend of the regular season, give the club a solid core to build on as they try to reboot for the 2021 campaign and beyond.
“The core group is in place here,” Rizzo said. “We’ve got young players who have performed terrific on the major league stage, and we’ve got more waiting in the wings. And we haven’t won four division titles, a world championship, and a whole bunch of games by not having a clear concise strategy to put together another championship-caliber club.
“That’s our goal for next year, to do the same.”
“He’s part of the core we’re talking about,” Rizzo added of Turner, with whom, he said, the team has talked about a possible long-term extension.
Turner has two more years of team control before he can potentially test the free agent market in 2023.
He and the Nationals avoided arbitration last winter when they agreed on a 1-year/$7.45M deal for the 2020 campaign.
“You’re looking at a young player that’s really coming into his own and becoming a real factor in the game,” Rizzo said. “So, he’s a guy that we’ve had discussions in the past.
“And we would certainly love to continue having those discussions.”
With Turner, Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Luis García, Carter Kieboom, and more as the core, the Nats have a mix of veterans who helped them win the World Series, and a group from the next generation of players who they hope can get them to the top again.
While Turner and his teammates didn’t get the usual victory lap in 2020, after winning it all in 2019, the shortstop said late this season he thought the club needed to move on after a disappointing follow-up this year, and focus on the future instead of looking back.
“I think you should celebrate what you accomplish,” Turner said, “but at the same time we kind of needed to move on and I think we did. We have a different clubhouse this year, we have different players, we’ve had injuries, we’ve had this, we’ve had that, it’s nice to reminisce a little bit, but at the same time you’ve got to worry about what’s in front of you, and we tried doing that the best we could and we fell a little short, but I think for me I try to separate the years because it’s not going to help you and it’s not going to hurt you.
“If we lost last year in the first round it doesn’t mean we’re going to win this year, and if we won last year it doesn’t mean we’re going to win, it’s all separate to me, and I try to keep it that way. So, I’ll always remember it, always enjoy it, love watching the videos and seeing highlights and stuff, but now it’s how do we do it again, how do we improve to be consistent and get back there?”