As I noted Friday, MLB Network host Greg Amsinger told St. Louis sports station 101 ESPN that he expects to see free-agent shortstop Trea Turner in a Cardinals uniform on Opening Day, 2023.

To recap for those who missed it: “He’s the perfect fit, the missing link, and if the Cardinals don’t recognize that they’re missing out,” Amsinger said. “He should be their No. 1 target. He will be their No. 1 target. And he eventually will be the shortstop of the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Oct 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner (6) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the 1st inning of game one of the NLDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Amsinger added: “(The Cardinals) are going to put all of their eggs in one basket and pay a ton of money, probably $200 million for a shortstop, and it’s going to be Trea Turner.”

Amsinger has solid connections. He’s been right before in some Cardinal-related predictions. I’ll decline to knock down his Turner forecast; I have no reason to do so. But the pragmatic side of me is skeptical for reasons that have nothing to do with Amsinger.

My skepticism is about the Cardinals signing off on the size of the financial investment necessary to entice him to St. Louis. Will chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. out-bid other Turner recruiters and make the largest offer? Is DeWitt willing to commit $200 million, or $300 million to land Turner?

Are the Cardinals prioritizing the shortstop position enough to pay top dollar when they have their No. 2 prospect — the talented, athletic and rocket-armed shortstop Masyn Wynn — getting closer to the majors? Does St. Louis team management feel more urgency to fill other positions, and funnel the large flow of cash in a pursuit of a catcher, starting pitcher, bullpen help and perhaps an outfield/DH piece?

I’m intrigued by Turner – who wouldn’t be? – so just for kicks, let’s dig in …

What’s the likely cost? Here are the fresh projections: Ben Clemens (FanGraphs) estimates a nine-year contract worth $288 million – or $32 million annually. Several writers/analysts offered forecasts: Tim Britton estimates eight years and $296 million for an annual average value of $37 million. Jim Bowden suggests eight years at $264 million ($33 million per year.) Keith Law foresees annual average value “in the low $30 million range on a 6-8 year deal.”

Potential landing spots, based on early, speculative media reports: It’s expected that Turner and his representatives will soon reconvene with the Dodgers to explore a deal that works for both sides. If Turner and the Dodgers end their partnership, possible destinations include the Cubs, Orioles, Mariners, Giants, Phillies, Angels and three teams that will likely lose their own shortstops to free agency: Braves (Dansby Swanson), Twins (Carlos Correa), and Red Sox (Xander Boagerts.)

What makes Turner so appealing? Many, many things. He’s one of the fastest dudes in the game, has copious power, is an effective leadoff hitter, and plays solid defense. He still has plenty of elite baseball left; Turner, 29, turns 30 at the end of June 2023. He also provides flexibility, having played center field for the Nationals and second base for the Dodgers.

Here are some particulars:

Over the last three seasons Turner led all MLB shortstops in Wins Above Replacement, slugging percentage (.514), batting average (.316), OPS (.877), OPS+ (138), doubles, extra-base hits, total bases, stolen bases, hits and runs. I’m not finished. Since 2020 Turner ranks second among shortstops in runs batted in, onbase percentage, wRC+, triples and is fourth in home runs.

Last season Turner had 21 homers, 39 doubles, 100 RBI, scored 101 runs and stole 27 bases in 30 attempts.

FanGraphs rates Turner as the best baserunner in the majors since the start of the 2017 season. He has 230 career steals and has succeeded in 85 percent of his attempts. Over the last four seasons he has an 88% success rate on stolen-base tries and has a “Bases Taken” percentage on batted balls in play of 50%, which is excellent. Bill James credits Turner with a net baserunning gain of +188 for his career, which includes a +163 net gain on the bases since 2017.

In 1,449 plate appearances at leadoff since 2018, Turner has hit .305 with a .358 OBP, .492 slug, and .850 OPS. Over that time he’s been 25 percent above league average offensively when batting leadoff. Among MLB leadoff men who have at least 1,400 plate appearances in the top spot since 2018, Turner ranks 1st in batting average, 3rd in steals, 4th in OPS, and 5th in onbase percentage and slugging.

Last season Turner performed well against top-level pitchers that had a 3.50 ERA or less, batting .268 with a .728 OPS. That batting average was higher than the BA posted by Paul Goldschmidt (.245), Nolan Arenado (.233) and Albert Pujols (.253) when they faced high-caliber pitching.

Turner bats right-handed but puts up good numbers against RH pitchers. Over the last three seasons he has a .347 average and a .1038 OPS vs. lefties – and a .305 average and .822 OPS against righties. He’s been 25 percent above league average offensively when taking on RHP over the last three years.

Among MLB hitters with at least 375 plate appearances with runners in scoring position over the last three seasons, Turner ranks 3rd in batting average (.326) and 4th in OPS (.890).

Are there any concerns? Yes. You can certainly nitpick his defense. Turner was charged with a career-high 16 errors in 2022, but the advanced metrics give him an average rating over the last two seasons, coming in with a neutral mark (0) on defensive runs saved and Outs Above Average. Turner wasn’t close to matching the defensive-runs-saved totals by Cardinals shortstops over the last two seasons. But he plays respectable shortstop defense and can’t be described as a liability there. As Keith Law wrote: “He’s still a (speedy) runner and a solid-average defender at shortstop, and he was a plus defender at second in his brief time there after the midseason trade that sent him to L.A. a year ago, so there’s every reason to think he’ll stay at short for at least another 4-5 years.”

As I mentioned earlier in this piece, the Cardinals could easily slide Turner over to second base at some point in the future if it makes sense. And he could play a role in center field … but wouldn’t be a regular there.

The end of defensive shifts, beginning in 2023, should boost Turner’s shortstop  defense. He can play a more stationary form of shortstop without having to scramble around. And Turner definitely would benefit from having third baseman Nolan Arenado station to his left.

Here’s some additional perspective from The Athletic: “The shortstop committed a career-worst 16 errors this season and had notable defensive gaffes in the Dodgers’ NLDS loss to the Padres, but his defense made strides in public metrics after a midseason adjustment. While the Dodgers were in Pittsburgh in May, Dodgers officials and some of Turner’s representatives at CAA noted that he had been positioning himself much deeper than usual, a byproduct of the infield dirt extending farther from home plate at Dodger Stadium compared to Nationals Park. That, Turner explained, resulted in him getting “dinged” in metrics such as Statcast’s Outs Above Average on balls hit in front of him.”

And there are a couple of things on the offensive side:

Turner leads MLB with 130 infield hits since 2017, a number that represents just under 15 percent of his total hits over that time. If Turner slows down, some of the infield hits will turn into outs instead. And a slower Turner won’t be as valuable on the bases.

Turner put up impressive counting-stat numbers in 2022. But his batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS all dropped from previous levels. One theory: Mindful of becoming a free agent after the ‘22 season Turner was a lot more aggressive at the plate in an attempt to do more damage and drive up his value. The result was a career-worst 12.8 percent swing-miss rate, a career-worst 36.4% chase rate on pitches out of the strike zone, and a career-low 86% contact rate on strikes. But these habits can be corrected. Turner should be able to settle down and get back to what works for him: high-contact, disciplined, high-average hitting with lots of doubles, a collection of triples and low 20s counts in home runs and stolen bases.

Overview from Eric Logenhagen of FanGraphs: “Turner has always been a star, but he’s reached another level offensively in the last three seasons. He’s also been remarkably durable, which wasn’t a given earlier in his career. He trails only Aaron Judge in WAR among position players over the past three seasons; as it turns out, a great-hitting, average-fielding shortstop with top-end baserunning value is a great player.”

Final words from me: If Turner doesn’t re-up with the Dodgers, then at least this becomes a ballgame. I remain skeptical over the likelihood of Turner and the Cardinals reaching terms on a huge contract, but there are three other high-profile shortstops on the market in Correa, Swanson and Bogaerts – and interested parties will be scrambling back and forth and trying to make choices.

If the Cardinals are set on Turner, they could have more of a direct chance of getting him. But I’d be stunned if DeWitt hunkered down in a bidding war against the whale-sized spenders for Turner – sticking and staying for as long as it takes, and for as much money as it takes, to get Turner to St. Louis. That isn’t the DeWitt style. But there’s always a first time. And DeWitt is 81 and 11 years removed from his team’s most recent World Series title.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app which is available in your preferred app store.

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All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.


Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.