On November 3rd of 2014, the Washington Nationals hired Bob Miller to their front office staff as Vice President and Assistant General Manager. A few days later, Miller was hard at work leading into the Winter Meetings in San Diego, and his impact on the Nationals’ future would be felt almost immediately. Miller had his eye on two promising players in the Padres minor league system.
On his weekly radio appearance on 106.7 Fan radio, Mike Rizzo said that it was Bob Miller who knew about the loopholes in the PTBNL (player to be named later) rules that existed at the time that required a newly drafted player to remain property of their current team for exactly one year from when they were signed as a draftee plus that a PTBNL can only remain property of the current team for no more than 6 months which meant, according to Mike Rizzo that Trea Turner (signed 6/13/2014) could not be traded as a PTBNL until after December 14th.
No player had actually ever been traded like that before until Trea Turner which also then created a revision to the rules governing trades of PTBNLs known loosely as the “Trea Turner” rule. MLB instituted the new rule but would not grandfather the rule to allow Turner to join the Nats before his one year anniversary after he signed with the Padres. Turner remained under San Diego’s control through June 13, 2015 even though the baseball world knew Turner was the PTBNL in the Steven Souza trade.
When the trade was first proposed, it was very complicated, and Rizzo and Miller had to explain the PTNBL portion to the Padres and then to the Commissioner’s office to allow the trade to be ratified. As they say, the rest was history. In February 2015, Turner would report to Spring Training in Arizona with his temporary Padres team. Afterwards, Turner was assigned to the Padres Double-A affiliate in San Antonio, and would remain there until June 14, 2015 when he would head to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to join the Nationals Double-A Senators to complete the worst kept trade secret in baseball that was six months in the making.
The Trea Turner deal was put together during the 2014 Winter meetings and came together quickly according to Mike Rizzo. San Diego’s general manager, A.J. Preller, was fairly new to the General Manager’s role with just over 4 months of tenure in his position at the time, and the Padres were doing a lot of deals that off-season. Preller was looking to add Major League assets who could make an immediate impact on their 2015 roster which added to the urgency to get deals done. Wil Myers was one the players the Padres coveted, and Tampa wanted a young controllable MLB-ready outfielder to fill an opening they had.
Rizzo said he liked Trea Turner out of the draft, but he went too early in the draft for the Nats to get him as he was picked in the 1st round at #13 and the Nationals had their first pick at #18 where they selected Erick Fedde. The Nats continued to scout Turner in the Minors as well as Joe Ross. Rizzo said they definitely brought both players up with the Padres to be part of the three-team deal with Tampa Bay.
Interestingly, Rizzo said he asked for more than just Turner and Joe Ross and didn’t get the other players he asked for. Turner and Ross were the two players Rizzo said he had to have in the deal that sent Steven Souza to the Tampa Rays who in turn sent Wil Myers to the Padres as the main components of the multi-player trade.
While the Rays and Padres both got Major League talent in Souza and Myers, Mike Rizzo said he was patient trading for Minor League talent. What Rizzo envisioned in Trea Turner was a future shortstop as the Nationals already had Ian Desmond for his final year of team control in 2015, and Danny Espinosa as his possible successor. Trea Turner was that extra depth you need.
Now, Joe Ross and Trea Turner could both be integral parts of the Nats’ 2016 success story, and that has to be gratifying to Bob Miller who is one of those behind-the-scenes lieutenants, who like most, get little recognition outside of the organization. The scouts and front office staff are the parts of a team that go unnoticed most of the time, and the player personnel and analytics group hit two out of the park in getting both Trea Turner and Joe Ross.
Trades are best analyzed in hindsight, and this one will be analyzed in the future and savored for what it means right now for this Nationals team.
Joe Ross, it was announced by Mike Rizzo, will make a rehab appearance on Saturday. We will hopefully see Ross and Turner making a big impact in the future of the Washington Nationals.