The Reasons against SS in the 2022-23 FA class

It is pretty well known that the crop of FA has 4 very highly touted SS, one of which will most likely land with the Phillies. There is going to be competition for the SS (Red Sox, Twins, Braves and Dodgers who are potentially losing a SS and the Cubs, O’s, Mariners, and White Sox could be in the mix). So it is far from a guarantee, but if I were a betting man, I would lean towards the Phillies getting 1, the question is who.

Trea Turner

Eight years, $268MM - 33.5M AAV

Has Qualifying Offer attached

Age: 29-37

I was on board with Turner as a perfect fit for the Phillies. He is a RH hitter to balance the lineup, is a perfect leadoff hitter, very consistent as he is the only SS with a lifetime .300BA, is incredibly fast, and pretty healthy his entire career. But then I started to look deeper and saw some red flags.

  • 25% of his batting value comes from his legs. Will that magically go away? No, but it will decline as he ages and this contract is paying him from ages 29-37. The legs should be there in his age 29 season and age 30 but by age 32 he will lose a couple of steps and won’t be able to rely on his legs and have that extra value.
  • For a guy who doesn’t strike out much, Turner does chase balls out of the zone. His chase rate has gotten worse over the years. This is very alarming because in addition to foot speed decreasing over time, bat speed does as well. Most hitters who age relatively well, do so because they have an elite eye and control of the strike zone. If Turner is relying on his elite hands and bat to ball skills, those will deteriorate over the course of the contract
  • This is a question all of the SS need to address, but is Turner's defensive reputation based on the teams positioning him well or his ability? All of the metrics point to Turner as a below average arm at SS, but he also grades out habitually as negative in UZR

From age 29-32 Turner should easily be worth 33.5M a year. His offense would be a welcome addition and balance out the lineup perfectly. But his tools will not age well and it could very well be a Ryan Howard type contract in his age 33-37 season

Xander Bogaerts

Seven years, $189MM - 27M AAV

Has Qualifying Offer attached

Age: 30-37

Bogarts was my number two because he also was a good fit for the phillies offense. Again a RH bat to balance the lineup, familiarity with the team (DD), and a much more consistent hitter. He is not a .300 hitter, but provides more power. In a full season with all healthy players a pitcher would have to navigate through Harper and Schwarber from the left side and Hoskins, Castellanos, Bohm, and Bogarts from the right, it would be challenging, especially if Stott and Marsh develop too. However, he too comes with some red flags.

  • Nothing really jumps out on the page when you look at his underlying numbers. He doesn’t hit the ball exceptionally hard, he doesn’t run that fast, he doesn’t strike out a ton nor walk a ton. He is good, but not great at everything offensively. This is why he is consistently a 4 WAR player. A 4 WAR player is easily a top 100 player in the game. Is that worth 7 yrs and nearly 200M?
  • He can’t stay at SS. He was a negative defender every year, except this year. I think this year is due more to team positioning rather than Bogaerts ability. His statcasts numbers show his difficulty ranging to his right and left and his Range runs above average is -21 for his career. Surprisingly his UZR for the past few seasons is actually positive and better than Turner. If he were to sign, he would have to slide over to 3rd shortly and rely more on reaction over range.

Carlos Correa

Nine Years $288MM - 32AAV


Age: 28-37

Correa’s deal last year showed me he would follow the money. He didn’t find a deal he liked so took a 1 year prove it deal. If he is looking at money there are teams that could just open up the check book - Red Sox, O’s, and Cubs come to mind. However, the Astros cheating scandal is following all the members of the 2017 team to this day. I don’t see how the Dodgers or Yankees could be after his services which could be the reason he went to the Twins, to rebrand himself. Unlike the previous two, I didn’t think of Correa as a fit until I dug deeper

  • Boras - His agent is Scott Boras, and if I were a player I would want him as my agent because he does work to get them the best deal possible. He also tends to work with teams that already have his clients. He made what felt like a team of Boras clients in DC. Now he has Harper, Bohm, Hoskins, and worked a deal for Arrieta. He’s worked with ownership before, and let's not kid ourselves, with a deal this big, it's not a GM or President of Baseball Ops decision, this is an ownership decision. (Also note that Bogaerts is also a Boras client).
  • When I mentioned that nothing jumped out on Bogaerts page, EVERYTHING jumped out on Correa’s page. He is in the 80th percentile in just about every category from statcast. His chase rate is consistently in the 60% minus the 2020 season, which shows his contract should age well. His offense doesn’t rely on his speed. It would most likely take a 8-9 year deal to land Correa but you are looking at age 28-32 as peak, and 33-35 as a more gradual decline where he could transition to 3rd or 2nd vs 3 years of peak for Turner and an almost immediate switch off SS with Bogaerts.
  • There is one BIG negative - his games played are - 153, 148, 136, 110, 109, 75 (I excluded 2020 and his rookie season). You aren’t getting Cal Ripkin Jr here. There are injury questions. In fairness, this was the same debate that some had when picking between Harper and Machado. Ultimately, I think that the on field talent is more significant than health, as long as it isn’t a career altering issue. There is also the stigma of signing someone labeled a cheater, and a label that can’t be removed.

Dansby Swanson

Seven years, $154MM - 22AAV

Has Qualifying Offer attached

Age: 29-36

Swanson is the best defender of the 4 here, he had a breakout offensively, and I would not come anywhere near the 22AAV that MLBTR has him at.

  • There is way too much fluctuation on the back of his baseball card. If I sign a guy for 20M+ I need to have a general clue to what offensive contributions I can count on. People are justifiably disappointed in Castellanos’ season. When he was signed it was assumed he would have .280 25-30 HR and almost 100 RBI. It wasn’t even close. With Swanson, you don’t know what to expect. All you know is you have a solid glove and an offensive wildcard. If I have a wild card, I would need to go out and get another dependable offensive piece, at least til Harper gets back. So sure, I’d save 10M AAV, but I’d have to turn around and spend it on other upgrades because of Swanson’s question marks.
  • Fair is fair, if I questioned Turner range, I have to look at Swanson's. Is his defensive prowess due to Braves positioning or his ability? From his statcast info he does have tremendous ability to the third base side, not as good up the middle. His range and UZR are positive, but not as much as I thought. He is the superior defender as I thought, but it will be interesting to see how he plays under the new rules.

Going into the offseason, I felt that Turner was the easiest choice with Bogaerts coming in second. Digging deeper, I don’t think that is the case. Correa is overlooked way too much. It may be because of the cheating scandal or the idea he is following the money, but he is honestly the best SS of the bunch and most importantly, I think he has the best chance to be worth the contract from start to finish. It's also not completely inconsequential that Correa could not be offered a QO which means that the next Justin Crawford or Alec Bohm could be drafted or the Phillies could be more likely to explore a Rondon or Bassitt.