The San Diego Padres traded Trea Turner for Wil Myers five seasons ago, and the Washington Nationals seem to have the better end of the deal.
Trea Turner helped crush the San Diego Padres on Sunday, but what fans may not remember is that he was supposed to be a San Diego Padre.
Turner was San Diego’s first round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft in June 2014. But by December, he was gone—part of the three-team, 11-player trade that brought Wil Myers and three others over to the Padres.
He officially became a member of the Washington Nationals about a year after the Padres drafted him. He’s now the Nationals’ starting shortstop, and launched one of four consecutive home runs that easily defeated his former team this weekend.
It has to prompt more than a little remorse for the Padres, who didn’t get nearly as much out of the deal.
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Of the four players San Diego acquired, only Myers is making an impact for the Padres in 2019.
Ryan Hanigan was never a Padre; the team turned around and traded him for Will Middlebrooks, who lasted just one season in San Diego’s infield.
Pitchers Jose Castillo and Gerardo Reyes are still with the organization, but Castillo is injured and Reyes has just gotten back to the Major Leagues. He was called up from Double-A on June 8 as a replacement for the injured Adam Warren, and pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
Meanwhile, Turner is starting for Washington and as evidenced by his performance on Sunday, has settled in very well as a major league player.
So did the San Diego Padres get the worse end of the Trea Turner trade? It’s easy to say that based on current performance. Castillo and Reyes both have only a handful of appearances, so in reality, that 2014 deal basically amounts to swapping Turner and Myers.
And Myers hasn’t been the franchise superstar that San Diego was hoping he would become when they made such an aggressive deal to land him.
Over five seasons in San Diego, Myers is hitting .249 with a .329 on-base percentage, per the stats at Baseball Reference. He’s currently in the middle of what’s statistically his worst season ever—hitting just .221 with a .317 OBP. His batting average hasn’t been that low since 2014.
Defensively, he’s stuck in the Padres’ massive outfield logjam and has bounced around more than a pinball. Myers is the team’s starting center fielder, following spells at both first and third base. It is entirely possible that he gets traded when San Diego finally starts unloading outfielders.
When he’s great, he’s great—but he’s also likely to struggle at the plate and strand runners, which is not what you want to see from a former All-Star and Rookie of the Year.
In fairness, Myers is two years older than Turner and his constant position changes weren’t ideal. But in five seasons with Washington—the same sample size—Trea Turner is batting .288 with a .344 OBP. That’s 67 points higher than Wil Myers, with 27 points more in on-base percentage.
Right now, he’s hitting .273 although he has a virtually identical .316 mark in OBP. And that’s while appearing in just 26 games so far after breaking his finger on a bunt.
He’s coming off an insane 2018 season in which he played all 162 games and stole a league-leading 43 bases. Myers played just 83 games last season, again with the caveat that he’s a bit older.
On paper, it looks like the Padres made a big mistake letting Turner, once their No. 2 prospect, go. But then there’s another No. 2 prospect and current shortstop to consider: Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis is the most exciting part of the current San Diego Padres roster, and he’s playing the same spot that Turner would have occupied.
If Trea Turner had been the San Diego Padres’ starting shortstop, where would Fernando Tatis Jr. have gone? Would the Padres even have pursued him in the James Shields trade if they were committed to Turner? Turner can also play center field and second base, but hasn’t appeared at either position since 2016.
For the two of them to be in the same starting lineup, somebody would have to move. Not unlike a certain Wil Myers, who has moved from place to place trying to find where he fits in with the team. And then perhaps Turner is in a Myers-esque situation, instead of being a sensation.
So while Trea Turner is the better player right now, Padres fans should content themselves with the knowledge that there’s no guarantee he’d have found the same success in San Diego, and that having him now may have meant not having one of the team’s most interesting players. Just like Anthony Rizzo and others, he’ll remain another superstar who was almost a Padres star.