In the third inning Sunday, Trea Turner launched a Zack Wheeler pitch out to deep left for a three-run homer. The ball, according to Statcast, traveled 440 feet, the hardest-hit home run of Turner’s young career.
A few hours later, it wouldn’t even be the most memorable homer he hit that afternoon.
Turner helped the Nationals avoid another late-inning disastrous loss when he lined a Justin Wilson offering over the left field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning, breaking a 5-5 tie and sending the fans home with a 6-5, walk-off win. He finished 3-for-5 with the two homers, four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base on the day.
“It feels good. I think it says it perfectly: It doesn't matter how we win, just as long as we do win,” Turner said after the game. “We put ourselves in a tough spot, but we dug ourselves out."
Turner is uniquely talented, even in today’s game. The 25-year-old is one of the fastest players in the league, the sixth-fastest in terms of sprint speed per Baseball Savant. He’s also got power that few speedsters possess, bopping 19 homers last season.
He’s well on his way to another big year, with the caveat, of course, that we’re less than a week into the season. But the shortstop already has four stolen bases after leading the National League with 43 steals last season, and manager Dave Martinez is on record as saying the team will be “in great shape” if Turner attempts 75 to 80 stolen bases this year.
Turner doesn’t get the attention given to guys like Ronald Acuna or Christian Yelich, or even teammates like Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon, but make no mistake: he’s a star. Sunday’s effort showed why.
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Sox Lock Up Bogaerts?
Xander Bogaerts looks like the next in line this spring to lock into a long-term contract extension.
Bogaerts and the Red Sox were reported to be nearing a seven-year, $132 million extension that would keep the shortstop in Boston through his age-33 season, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe added that the deal would include an opt-out clause after the 2022 season, as well as a $20 million vesting team option (based on plate appearances) for the 2026 season.
If finalized, it would be the latest in a string of contract extensions for MLB stars in recent weeks. The Sox have been busy, also inking Chris Sale to a five-year, $145 million extension, and, of course, the big one was the 12-year, $430 million deal signed by Mike Trout at the end of Angels camp. Jacob deGrom, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are some of the others to come to terms with their teams on extensions this spring.
The deal would ensure Bogaerts doesn’t hit the open market for a while, as he was set to do this winter for the first time. The 26-year-old and the Red Sox avoided arbitration in January by doing a one-year, $12 million deal.
As most are, the $132 million extension would represent a good deal for the club after he’s been worth 17.5 fWAR over the past four seasons. If a win costs roughly $8-10 million in 2019, he’ll likely be worth nearly double what the Sox are paying him, at least in the early years.
Remaining in Boston bodes well for Bogaerts as well, as staying in a hitter-friendly park and in the middle of a stout Sox lineup means plenty of homers, runs and RBI in the foreseeable future. Bogaerts set career highs in homers and RBI while playing in 136 games in 2018, batting .288/.360/.522.
No official confirmation of the extension was made Sunday, but assuming there are no snags, it should be announced Monday or Tuesday at the earliest.
Pad-ding His Stats
A year ago, Chris Paddack was working toward making a start for High-A Lake Elsinore in late April.
Now, he’s starting regular season games for the Padres in late March.
Paddack picked up Sunday where he left off in spring, largely dominating the Giants over five innings in a no-decision. Paddack struck out seven while allowing just one run on two hits and a walk.
Few would be shocked by much of anything Paddack would do these days. The 23-year-old is approaching folk hero status after a spring training that saw him post a 1.76 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings of work, a Cactus League showing that earned him a spot on the Opening Day roster despite his having made just a handful of starts above High-A.
That inexperience and injury history -- the Tommy John surgery limited him to 90 innings in the minors last season, and none in 2017 -- likely mean Paddack’s innings will be managed this year, whether that’s skipping starts here and there, having him pitch in relief for a stretch or simply shutting him down at some point later this year. But when he’s on the mound, it’s going to be fun to watch.
National League Quick Hits: Christian Yelich homered in his fourth straight game Sunday, tying a major league record to begin the year, and delivered a two-run, walk-off double to lead the Brewers past the Cardinals. He actually reached base in all five of his plate appearances -- seeing what he can do when he's allowed to swing, the Cardinals also walked him three times Sunday -- and is now hitting .500/.667/1.583 through the season's first four games. Reigning MVP indeed … Daniel Murphy is flying to Arizona to meet with a hand specialist to see if he's dealing with mallet finger. Mallet finger would mean he has tendon damage in addition to a fracture of his left index finger. If it is determined that he does have mallet finger, it would mean several weeks on the injured list … Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic report that the Padres "are engaged in continuing dialogue" with Dallas Keuchel's camp. The Padres seem intent on adding rotation help, as they've been connected to Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman via trade, as well. However, the report notes that the Padres "are not close on any addition" and "have been unwilling to meet the price of Keuchel’s agent, Scott Boras." While San Diego has a handful of promising young starters, a rotation stabilizer like Keuchel would make a lot of sense … Bryce Harper crushed his second home run of the 2019 season on Sunday. Harper tagged Braves' reliever Shane Carle for the solo shot leading off the seventh inning. He also doubled and drew a pair of walks in the ballgame, finishing the night 2-for-3. He's off to a terrific start with his new club, slashing .333/.538/1.111 with a pair of homers and two RBI through his first three games … Reds manager David Bell admitted Sunday that Alex Wood's (back) previously stated timetable to return of mid-April might have been "a little aggressive." Wood hasn't had a setback, but he simply needs time to rebuild his stamina. Bell did not offer an updated timetable for the left-hander, but it appears that Tyler Mahle will be getting more starts than previously thought … Cody Bellinger went 3-for-5 and clobbered his fourth home run of the season Sunday. He's off to a ridiculous start to the season, slashing .500/.524/1.100 with four long balls and eight RBI … Sandy Alcantara fired eight scoreless innings in a win over the Rockies on Sunday. Alcantara struck out six batters and did not issue a walk. The hard-throwing 23-year-old righty had total control of his prodigious raw stuff and needed only 92 pitches to complete eight frames. Not only was it the longest outing of his big-league career, but it also marked the first start in which he did not hand out a free pass. It was an extremely encouraging season debut and a potential harbinger of mixed league relevance for Alcantara. However, he remains a risky streaming option on the road against the Braves in his next start on Saturday.
American League Quick Hits: Trent Thornton broke a Blue Jays’ franchise record with eight strikeouts over five innings and settled for a no-decision in his major-league debut against the Tigers on Sunday. Thornton made quite an impression in this one. After allowing a leadoff single to Jeimer Candelario, he struck out the side in the first inning and did not allow another hit until the fourth. He scattered two singles and did not walk a batter over five stellar frames. A fifth-round selection out of North Carolina back in 2015, Thornton burst onto the prospect radar as a member of the Astros minor-league system, thanks to the prodigious spin rate on his curveball. He was shipped to the Blue Jays in exchange for Aledmys Diaz this offseason and made their Opening Day rotation with a strong showing in spring training. The 25-year-old right-hander possesses a deceptive delivery, pairing a mid-90’s heater with his signature high-spin curveball, while also mixing in a slider and occasional changeup. He’s an intriguing streaming option in deeper mixed leagues when he faces a struggling Indians’ lineup on the road in his next start on Friday … Carlos Correa (neck) made his season debut Sunday. He went hitless in three at-bats as the Astros struggled to figure out Rays starter Yonny Chirinos … Hunter Strickland has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of his right lat. He won't need surgery, but a Grade 2 strain is going to result in Strickland being sidelined for "at least a couple months," per Mariners manager Scott Servais. Anthony Swarzak (shoulder) is slated to be activated from the injured list Tuesday and would figure to be the favorite for saves once he gets up to speed. In the meantime, Nick Rumbelow, Zac Rosscup, Cory Gearrin and Matt Festa are names to speculate on if you're really desperate … J.D. Martinez went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI in Boston's loss to the Mariners on Sunday. The 31-year-old slugger boasts a .412 batting average and 1.239 OPS through his first 19 plate appearances this season. He's already up to two home runs and seven RBI in four games … Nelson Cruz went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI as the Twins thumped the Indians on Sunday. Cruz had a single, a double and the two-run home run in the fifth inning, his first of the year. The 38-year-old just keeps on hitting despite getting older every day, and he'll be a fixture in the middle of a good Twins lineup all year … Carlos Santana went 4-for-4 with three RBI in Sunday's loss to the Twins. The Indians lineup is kind of a mess right now but should improve as they add some pieces, and the 32-year-old figures to be in the middle of it all year for the Cleveland club … Yonny Chirinos allowed a lone run on two hits over seven innings Sunday, striking out six in a win over the Astros. Chirinos posted a 3.51 ERA in 89 2/3 innings of work last year, including seven starts, and he's got the stuff to take a step forward with a regular starting job this summer. If he's available in your league he might be worth taking a flier on, especially with the Giants, a lineup that strikes fear in the hearts of few these days, on deck … Yonder Alonso went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI to help the White Sox down the Royals on Sunday. Alonso followed Jose Abreu's homer in the fourth inning with one of his own, his first homer of the year. Alonso is looking to prove his 2018 season, and not his breakout 2017 season, was the outlier after a trade from the Indians to the White Sox this past winter … Blake Treinen earned his second save of the season in the Athletics' win over the Angels on Sunday. Treinen has worked 5 2/3 scoreless innings to open the 2019 campaign, allowing just one hit while striking out six. The 30-year-old right-hander was among the top closers in baseball last year and is well on his way to another hugely productive season at the back-end of the Oakland bullpen.