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Why did Trea Turner choose to sign with the Phillies?

Amidst reports that the Philadelphia Phillies were not the highest bidder for Trea Turner’ services, we look at the various reasons that a player might sign for one team over the other

Amidst reports that the Philadelphia Phillies were not the highest bidder for Trea Turner’ services, we look at the reasons that a player might sign for a team
Christian PetersenGetty

Coming into this post season free agency period, everyone knew that big moves and even bigger deals were in the offing. With marquee players like Aaron Judge, Justin Verlander, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts amongst the players on the market, there was no way for teams to avoid spending big money.

The waters have begun to settle and the deals are coming in, and while none are record-breaking, they are all in the same ballpark as record breakers. Justin Verlander’s two-year $86.67 million deal with a third year option that could see it touch $110 million is actually the same per-season payout as Max Scherzer’s record three-year $130 million contract. Both players will pocket $43,333,333 per season.

Trea Turner headed back east, after rejecting the Dodgers’ qualified offer and choosing to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Long expected to sign with the Phillies, Turner is now reunited with his former-Nationals team mate Bryce Harper and the details of the deal are eye-popping.

Turner has signed an eleven-year deal that contains a full no-trade clause and no deferred money worth $300 million, making him the tenth person to break that threshold in MLB history.

The case for less money

It turns out that the deal Turner ended up signing was not the most lucrative offer on the table.

This is far from unusual, with players signing every season for a host of different reasons. Money is only one of them. As difficult as it may be for us mere mortals who live paycheck to paycheck, the draw of an extra five or ten million dollars on top of an already nine-figure deal is of little importance.

Proportionally, it would be like a rival company to the one that you or I work for offering perhaps a few hundred dollars on top of an existing annual salary, and in return we would have to uproot ourselves and our families to cross the country. The juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

Of course, nobody wants less money in their deal. But there are other things that are more important. Clayton Kershaw signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday for a single season at $20 million. The Texas Rangers were reported to have offered more money to the Dallas native, but the draw of the playoffs is strong, and the Dodgers, for all of their post-season issues that seem to follow the team around, are pretty much a sure thing to still be playing in October.

Everyone offered Justin Verlander pretty nearly as much money as wanted, but he decided to sign with the New York Mets. While the details of competing deals are thin on the ground, it is known that both the Dodgers and the Yankees were in the running to sign him, and despite what the fans think about paying a 40-year-old pitcher $43 million a year, neither of those teams would have backed away from paying that much.

In the last five years, Verlander has won two Cy Young awards, runner-up for another one, ALCS MVP and won two World Series titles. Teams pay for that. But for Verlander and his wife Kate Upton, the lure of New York seemed to be more important than anything else, although vocal former-Yankees-fan may have preferred pinstripes, it seems that Los Angeles was never in the running.

Trea Turner turned down more money to go back east

Since the beginning of negotiations, it was no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies were in pole position in the hunt for Trea Turner. The Florida native went to college in North Carolina and then had his biggest success with the Washington Nationals. The draw of the east coast was very strong in these dealings.

Despite the wonderful things that he has done in Los Angeles, the deal looked to be centered on Philly from day one, although there was the briefest of moments when Atlanta strayed into the conversation.

It now turns out that the San Diego Padres, the team who had originally drafted him out of college before trading him to Washington, made an offer that as per Matt Gelb of The Athletic would have meant more money to Turner even after adjusting for California’s higher state income tax rate than Pennsylvania’s.

While that $300 million mark that Turner managed to hit is impressive, the per-year value of $27.3 million is still a manageable number for the Phillies, and this contract gives Turner some level of protection for what is likely to be the rest of his playing career.

But the draw of the east coast was the true deal-breaker for Trea Turner. Being in the same time zone as your family has a value, as does being able to fly down to see them in a couple of hours. And that alone is worth sacrificing a few digits off of what is already an incomprehensible amount of money for most people.