Then came Saturday and his first news conference as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The lines came with a twist of frustration. Naturally, Turner, 28, was asked about being traded by the Nationals instead of agreeing to a contract extension before reaching free agency. Specifically, he was pressed on General Manager Mike Rizzo’s comments that Turner and his agents wanted to table discussions until the shortstop market shook out.
“I’ve been pretty honest,” Turner said from Dodger Stadium, where he was set to bat leadoff and play second base against the Los Angeles Angels. “I said I would talk about an extension whenever and waited for that to happen, and it didn’t happen. So I’ve been told a lot of things over the last two years, and, for me, actions speak louder than words. That’s kind of in the past now, it’s over with, and excited to start a new chapter.
“I’m excited to play baseball — that’s why I’m here. That’s what I want to do. That’s why I play this game — for the game, to win, to compete. And these guys are doing that here, and I’m excited for that.”
On July 30, just after the Nationals had traded eight veterans, Rizzo told reporters that he and Turner’s camp last discussed specific figures in the spring of 2020. On Saturday, Turner repeated that he wanted to spend his whole career with the Nationals. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2014 and once wanted to spend his whole career with them, too.
But the Nationals shipped him to the Dodgers at the deadline — along with ace Max Scherzer — for a four-player package of catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-handers Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carrillo, and outfielder Donovan Casey. Baseball is, indeed, a business. Turner was thrust into it while in isolation because he tested positive for the coronavirus July 27. He described it as “one of the crazier weeks of my life.”
“When I was with the Nationals, I thought I’d play there 20 years,” Turner said, speaking in the past tense about a team he helped win the World Series in 2019. “The organizations I’ve been a part of, I’ve liked. I liked the people there. I would have loved to stay there. These last two weeks have been weird because I go back and forth like, ‘Oh, they’re not going to trade me’ ... and, ‘Oh, yep, they are.’ ”
While fighting off the virus, Turner lost weight he is confident he’ll put back on. He also did some activities at home while hoping to debut for the Dodgers in the near future. After getting an at-bat Friday, he was set to play at second Saturday because Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ regular shortstop, recently returned from a right hand fracture.
Heading into this season, Turner vowed to improve his fielding and eliminate routine mistakes. Advanced metrics favor his defense over Seager’s, but for now Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts will stick with the shortstop who took World Series MVP honors in 2020. And while Turner would prefer not to change positions, according to multiple people close to him, he hit the right notes while addressing the new role.
“I thought a lot of things that everybody thought, like just curious,” said Turner, who entered Saturday fourth in the National League with a .321 batting average. “But I feel like pretty early on the move was to go to second base, and I’m just trying to fit in here. These guys are unbelievable when you look up and down the lineup. You’ve got all-stars, you’ve got MVPs, you’ve got guys that have done it in the postseason. You just try to slot in where you can and contribute.”
More from The Post: