The Dodgers have a myriad of options if Justin Turner departs. Turner, however, does not seem to have that same luxury.
The St. Louis Cardinals are nearing a deal with Dexter Fowler, thus eliminating one prominent suitor for Turner (unless the Cardinals move salary). The San Francisco Giants were reportedly “open-minded” about Turner, but signing Mark Melancon leaves the financial well dry.
— MLB (@MLB) December 9, 2016
The list of teams who can reasonable give Turner four or five years and north of $80 million is dwindling. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports mentioned the Los Angeles Angels as a dark horse destination, given the team’s need at third base and the ability to offer Turner a close-to-home alternative. Heyman, however, calls it a “long shot” marriage.
Interestingly, Turner’s two former employers, the Mets and Orioles, could use Turner’s bat, but either reunion is unlikely. The Mets just paid Yoenis Cespedes and have to be mindful of long-term salary commitments with their wave of pitching due in the coming years. The Orioles have Manny Machado at third and are searching for outfield help. The Atlanta Braves were another low profile destination, but after investing over $25 million in R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Sean Rodriguez, they appear unlikely as well.
At this point, barring the always sneaky “mystery team,” the Angels are the Dodgers’ biggest threat. The team has the power to spend and keep Turner home. The Angels aren’t a contender, however, which plays to the Dodgers’ advantage if a bidding war erupts.
Turner may be the best free agent on the market, but he’s running out of fits. The longer Turner goes unsigned, the better for the Dodgers. But at some point, Los Angeles is going to want to make its own decision. We’ll see if Turner is part of it.