The Padres’ bid to sign Trea Turner — which reportedly included a larger offer than he accepted in Philadelphia, even after accounting for California’s higher income tax — caught plenty of fans and pundits off-guard. The Padres already have Fernando Tatis Jr., Ha-Seong Kim, Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth as options in the infield, and San Diego also has a pair of $300MM players on the roster in Machado and Tatis (though the former could opt out following the 2023 season).
There’s been speculation (here included) about whether Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller will pivot and look into the remaining All-Star shortstops in free agency, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Turner was viewed as a special case and that the Padres were singularly interested in him, rather than adding another shortstop to the mix. As such, it’s unlikely that the Friars will pursue any of Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson in the wake of being spurned by Turner. The Athletic’s Dennis Lin does write that the Padres have checked in with Bogaerts this offseason, but Lin adds that Turner was the team’s “clear” preference. MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell adds that the Padres have not spoken to Kim or Cronenworth about a position change at this time.
Preller acknowledged the team’s interest in Turner and the disappointment in not landing him when speaking with Acee and others on the San Diego beat Monday evening. Part of Turner’s appeal, as Preller explained, was his athleticism and experience playing positions other than shortstop, which the Friars believed could create some more flexible lineup choices.
Even if the Padres are out of the mix (or, at best, on the periphery) for the remaining shortstops, the strong bid for Turner is still plenty notable. It underscores that even with a star-studded roster and a payroll that many expected to be reaching its maximum levels, Padres ownership is willing to spend at levels commensurate with the sport’s very biggest financial powers. The Padres paid the luxury tax in 2022, have a projected $210MM bottom-line payroll in 2023 and a projected $230MM in luxury-tax obligations, per Roster Resource, but were apparently still content to put down a $300MM+ offer on Turner.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that San Diego will pivot and dive headlong into the bidding for Aaron Judge, but it also at least opens the door for speculation about such top-of-the-market pursuits. Preller spoke of a corner bat and a starting pitcher as his top needs. Acee suggests that San Diego has looked into reunions with Josh Bell and Brandon Drury in addition to the recently non-tendered Dominic Smith, illustrating the vast breadth of possibilities the team is considering with Turner now in Philadelphia.