Dodgers 2014 Off-Season Free Agent Profile: Justin Turner
With the departure of Los Angeles Dodger infield free agents Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker and the signing of Juan Uribe, the Dodgers still find themselves empty on the bench. As we continue to take a look at available free agents, we focus on replacing one of the departed infielders.
Today, we take a look at a utility infielder that would fill one of those bench roles:
Turner is a 29-year-old infielder that’s spent the last few seasons with the New York Mets. In his career, he’s hit .260 with 57 doubles in 318 games over five seasons.
The utility man had his best season last year, hitting .280 with 16 RBI in 86 games for the Mets. He had 13 doubles and two home runs in 200 at-bats.
Turner would fill a need for the Dodgers on the bench after the departures of Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston, Jr. Turner can play any of the four infield positions and is used to coming off the bench. Turner would provide a spot starter at one of the infield spots and a capable replacement in case of an injury. His versatility would give manager Don Mattingly some flexibility off the bench.
The 29-year-old has been a steady bat over the past three seasons, hitting .267 with 56 doubles in just over 800 at-bats. Turner doesn’t provide much in terms of power, hitting just eight home runs in that span but has improved his average each of the past three seasons. The right-handed hitting Turner could spell one of the starters and hold his own at the plate.
The infielder out of Long Beach would give the Dodgers a local boy that could thrive coming back home. There aren’t many utility men options on the free agent market and Turner’s name has become one with increasing interest. The infielder is still fairly young and could continue to improve, giving the Dodgers an above-average role player.
Turner can play any position in the infield but he doesn’t do so particularly well. He’s spent most of his time at second base and has just a career .980 fielding percentage and is worth negative-seven runs in Total Zone Fielding. The Cal State Fullerton product hasn’t provided above-average defense at any position and could be a liability in the later innings.
Although he would provide a key bench player, Turner doesn’t have the speed preferred at a utility position. He has just eight career stolen bases and isn’t known for having much speed. The Dodgers didn’t get much speed from Schumaker and Punto last year but could use some for late-inning situations.
Turner could be looking for a more prominent role than a utility backup role after a solid season with the Mets. The Dodgers have a full infield and won’t be looking for anyone to take significant playing time from any of their starters. If Turner wants to come home, the Dodgers could offer him a role but he would likely be behind Dee Gordon on the depth chart.
Turner made just over $500,000 last season and could see himself get a raise, depending on where he goes. The 29-year-old could receive a two-year deal worth $750,000 a season, with a slight chance of that being $1 million.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 30%
With a thin utility player market, the Dodgers could find themselves in need of Turner in the coming months. The Dodgers don’t have much behind Gordon and Justin Sellers while having a lot of room to fill out their bench. The homecoming aspect could tempt Turner to take a smaller deal to play with the Dodgers.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and Juan Uribe agreed to a two-year deal over the weekend