Dodgers’ Trea Turner: ‘Everything is in play’ in free agency

PHOENIX — Heading into this season, Trea Turner figured to be one of the most sought-after players on the free-agent market this winter.

Nothing that has happened during the season has changed that – including any attempt by the Dodgers to keep Turner from hitting the open market by negotiating a contract extension to keep him in Los Angeles.

Turner said Wednesday there were preliminary discussions in the spring but “we all agreed we didn’t really get anywhere.” So he told the Dodgers he would “rather just focus on the season” and not talk contract during the season.

“So we haven’t talked since then,” he said. “But I’m sure we’ll be talking in a few weeks.”

Indeed they will. Turner has followed up his 2021 batting title by batting .305 this season (fourth in the National League) with 20 home runs, 24 stolen bases (fourth in the NL) and a personal-best 96 RBIs (also fourth in the NL).

“Yeah, I think this year mentally was definitely different, a little tougher,” Turner said of playing with pending free agency in the back of his mind. “I feel like every day you’ve got something on the line – even though you really don’t, but you do.

“I just tried to keep telling myself that if I can have some fun, enjoy it then that stuff would take care of itself. I think it has. I think this year has been pretty good overall. I definitely feel like I could play better in all facets really. But for the most part, looking back, I think it’s been a pretty good year for me individually.”

When Turner was traded to the Dodgers (along with pitcher Max Scherzer) last July, he admits he was “shocked” by it even though there had been speculation about the Washington Nationals moving him ahead of his free agency.

There was also a perception that Turner was not happy being sent to the West Coast and would not likely sign a long-term deal to stay out west. A Florida native, Turner played college baseball at North Carolina State where he met his wife, Kristen, who is also an East Coast native.

Turner acknowledges that he helped create that perception.

“I originally said that so I wouldn’t necessarily get traded to certain places. I was trying to control as much as I could – because a lot of it was out of my control,” he said. “Yeah, I’m an East Coast guy. But with free agency, you get a chance to pick and control it as much as you can in your entire career. I’m open to anything really. Everything is in play.

“That was more for a trade and an extension in a place I didn’t really know. I didn’t want to get traded and then get offered an extension right away and not know anything about the city and stuff. … To me, that (decision) would be all based off money and that’s not how I want to make my decision. Obviously, that’s a factor but a lot more goes into it. I think it was more of that.

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“Yeah, I’m from the East Coast. Would I like to go back? Sure. But I think L.A.’s been really good to me.”

A move back to his natural position at shortstop this year helped make Turner more comfortable in his western home. Off the field, he acknowledges he and his wife and their toddler son have also grown more comfortable in L.A.

“It’s getting better. We’re getting used to it,” he said. “The city’s great and all that. Maybe we just need to find a neighborhood that we feel comfortable in. Renting and moving around was kind of tough. Being able to buy a home and have it be a home I think would be really nice.

“Everything here has been really good. It’s definitely not a ‘I don’t want to be on the West Coast’ thing.”

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