Trea Turner, just 22*, is currently hitting .333/.405/.508 in Double-A San Antonio, an affiliate in the San Diego Padres’ organization. Feels good to have a guy like that on the farm, doesn’t it?
The 2014 first-round draft pick hit well enough in his professional debut to crack a couple of top 100 prospect lists — he ranked 65th on Baseball America’s and 62nd on MLB.com’s prior to this season — OPSing .976 in 46 games at Single-A Fort Wayne in 2014. His prospect stock has only been on the rise this season, as Turner has successfully made the transition to Double-A ball, flashing plus contact skills, some pop, plenty of speed, and the defensive chops to stick at short.
There’s only one problem. Turner has a one-way flight booked for Washington, and by the middle of the month he’ll be a member of the Nationals’ organization. The not-so-secret player-to-be-named-later in last offseason’s three-team trade between the Padres, Nationals, and Rays — the one that netted the Padres Wil Myers — Turner has spent the past half-year in a strange baseball limbo, playing for a team that no longer wanted him. Thanks to an old baseball rule (since changed), Turner can’t officially be traded until one year after he signed his major league contract, which turns out to be June 13th, 2015.
The early returns on the trade haven’t worked out all bad for the Padres. Myers has been great so far, forgetting the defense in center, but Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes (and sometimes Will Middlebrooks, even) are still logging innings at shortstop, a group that’s hit .212/.286/.288 this season. Turner, who could reach the majors by season’s end, is just the type of player the Padres need.
Instead, he’s bound for Washington — that is, unless we can devise a plan to keep him around. Here are nine sure-fire options that might do the trick:
1. Trade for the rights to the rights to Turner with the Nationals — Send a player-to-be-named-later over to Washington for the rights the Nationals currently possess to acquire Turner as a PTBNL. Simple enough, and everyone leaves happy.
2. Tell the Nationals Turner got lost on a bus trip to Corpus Christi — Ask them kindly to select another player from a pre-determined list, and follow-up by sending Turner to Mexico under an assumed name only to sign him in 2016 as a free agent out of the Mexican League. Nobody will be suspicious when Tre Burner makes the jump from the Mexican League to the majors.
3. Just say no — Make the Nationals attempt to physically extract Turner from the Padres’ organization. Booby trap Turner’s residence, hire recently retired Carlos Quentin to serve as a body guard, use A.J. Preller as a lookout (he doesn’t sleep, anyway). Make it difficult enough and Nats will eventually just forget about the whole thing.
4. Send the Nationals the other San Antonio shortstop, Diego Goris, on “accident” — Hey, he’s just 24 years old and once hit .350 on a fourth trip through the Dominican Summer League. Can’t see the Nationals complaining about this one, if they even catch the mix up.
5. Work it off — “We’ll loan you one week of A.J. Preller as an international scout in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, working exclusively for the Nationals, so long as you don’t select Turner as the PTBNL,” the Padres might say. Or … “here’s Alexi Amarista, our major league shortstop, take ’em for a week (or 20). He can play short, second base, and every outfield position.”
6. Cut Turner — This one’s too easy. Just cut Turner prior to mid-June, forcing the Nationals to pick another player from a list that includes Rocky Gale and Brett Wallace. Re-sign Turner shortly after. Another scenario where everyone’s happy.
7. Force Turner to take a performance-enhancing drug — The suspension will ensure the Nationals pick someone else, plus they’ll mistakenly believe Turner’s recent success was PED-fueled.
8. Throw three late-August games — Padres agree to drop a three-game set in Washington that starts on August 25th, Nationals agree to never utter Turner’s name again. Those three games could really go a long way toward another NL East title for the Nationals, the Padres might argue. These Mets looks feisty.
9. Send Justin Upton to the Nationals instead of Turner — Okay, we’ve reached desperation mode, but this idea might actually work. The Nationals are in the thick of a pennant race, but Jayson Werth is injured, out until at least August, and their left fielders as a group have hit .212/.290/.321. Adding Upton to Denard Span and Bryce Harper would give the Nationals one of the best outfields in the game. The Padres would lose their best player, but Upton’s a free agent after the season anyway, and the Padres’ playoff chances — about a one-in-five shot, according to Baseball Prospectus — are slowly dwindling. If they’re feeling nice, and weren’t too ticked off by previous efforts to keep Turner in San Diego, maybe the Nationals could throw in another prospect.
*Update: I aged turner by a few days. He’s actually 21, but he’ll be 22 on June 30th.