Pros and Cons: Should the Mets sign Trea Turner?

Trea Turner
Trea Turner / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Since the buzz around free agent Trea Turner and the Mets started building recently, there have been some eager to shoot it down as foolish.

Why would the Mets want Turner when they already have Francisco Lindor?

Why would Turner want to switch positions, and where would he even play on the Mets?

Why would the Mets invest a boatload of money in a position player who doesn't provide tons of power?

The above questions are all somewhat valid, but flawed.

Turner is not a perfect fit for the Mets, but he is one of the best players in baseball. And the Mets, who need to add a jolt to their offense and could have plenty of money to spread around depending on how many of their own free agents they bring back, should have lots of interest in Turner -- regardless of the imperfect fit.

Should they sign him?

CONS

Turner will begin next season at 29 years old and turn 30 on June 30, so he's not exactly a kid. And there's a chance he could get a deal for eight years or more. That could be a ton to give to someone who generates lots of value with his legs and is about to be on the wrong side of 30 -- Turner has averaged 44 stolen bases per 162 games.

The Mets recently gave a huge deal to Lindor, but they doled it out before his age-27 season. For Turner, they'd be giving it to him before his age-30 season. And Lindor is a better defender than Turner.

Speaking of Lindor, the Mets will be paying him $32 million annually through 2031, and they'll also have to soon pay Pete Alonso if they want to keep him from leaving as a free agent after the 2024 season.

Would the Mets be comfortable having three position players making $30 million or more for a half decade or longer? That will obviously depend on how the rest of the roster is constructed, and it could get a serious facelift this offseason, with Brandon Nimmo possibly leaving via free agency and a handful of other big free agents.

Brandon Nimmo
Brandon Nimmo / Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

Now to address the elephant in the room...

Turner is a shortstop, and the Mets already have Lindor. But Turner moved to second base in 2021 with the Los Angeles Dodgers to accommodate Corey Seager at short. And if he's willing to play second base with the Mets, why shouldn't they pursue him?

Maybe Turner doesn't want to move off short, which would render any pursuit moot. But he's one of four star shortstops (Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson are the others) in a crowded free agent market. So perhaps he's willing to switch positions if the right opportunity arises.

Another "issue" with Turner is that he isn't much of a home run hitter, and the Mets can certainly use more pop. But Turner has a career .842 OPS and helps to make up for his relatively pedestrian home run power by smacking bundles of doubles and getting on base a whole hell of a lot.

There's also the matter of how signing Turner might impact the Mets' payroll.

If they re-sign Jacob deGrom and also bring back Nimmo, it's hard to see a fit. But if the Mets lose one or both of them, pivoting to Turner could make a lot of sense.

PROS

Turner is one of the best players in baseball, and is a truly dynamic offensive weapon.

A career .302/.355/.487 hitter, Turner was the 13th most valuable player in baseball last season per fWAR. For reference, Lindor was seventh, Jeff McNeil was 21st, and Nimmo was 27th.

Trea Turner
Trea Turner / Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Adding Turner to a team that loses Nimmo would help offset that loss and then some. But imagine adding Turner to a team with Nimmo, along with Lindor and McNeil and Alonso. It could make the Mets' lineup absolutely lethal.

Would it be wise for the Mets to sign Turner if they re-sign Nimmo? Yes. Would it be wise for the Mets to sign Turner if they re-sign Nimmo and deGrom? Probably not. There's also a case to be made that letting Nimmo walk and fitting just Turner and deGrom might be tough. After all, the Mets have lots of holes to fill this offseason in the rotation and bullpen, and they should also be looking to sign a DH.

Yes, Steve Cohen can afford to do whatever he wants. But if the Mets have long, expensive deals for Lindor, Turner, Nimmo, and the recently re-signed Edwin Diaz on the books, along with three or four years of deGrom and two more of Max Scherzer, their payroll will be very top-heavy. And as noted above, they'll soon have to pay Alonso.

That means that if the Mets have legitimate interest in Turner, they'll probably have to say goodbye to at least one of Nimmo or deGrom.

If it's Nimmo who leaves, the Mets will have to replace him in the outfield. And signing Turner would allow the Mets to slide McNeil from second base (where he started 95 games last season) to a corner outfield spot while shifting Starling Marte back to center field.

If it's deGrom who leaves, that will likely open up at least $40 million or so over the next three or four seasons that would've otherwise been dedicated to him, perhaps making a pursuit of Turner or another exciting position player more likely than it would be if deGrom stays.

Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) in the sixth inning during game two of the Wild Card series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) in the sixth inning during game two of the Wild Card series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports / © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

And if the Mets were to lose both deGrom and Nimmo, it's hard to see them not allocating lots of those dollars to another impact player or two.

To be clear, the Mets shouldn't be pursuing stars for the sake of it. And they shouldn't be going after them in a reactionary way if they lose some of their key internal free agents.

But the Mets are smack in the middle of their World Series window, and they should be aggressive while trying to win a title during that window. Turner would help them do that.

VERDICT

Of all the external position player free agents on the market, which of course includes Aaron Judge and the three other star shortstops listed above, I think Turner makes the most sense for the Mets.

And if I'm the Mets, I look to fill the power void by signing Jose Abreu to be the DH.

As far as the Mets and Turner, it could simply come down to timing, especially as it pertains to deGrom's future and -- to a lesser extent -- Nimmo's.

If deGrom drags his feet or signs somewhere else, things could get very interesting -- depending partially on what happens with Nimmo and whether the Mets try to sign a different ace. And it doesn't get much more interesting than Turner.