Third base is called the ‘hot corner’ for a reason. A majority of hitters in Major League Baseball hit right-handed, and third base is where an abundance of ground balls go to die.
To stand out at third base, you need nano-second level twitch reflexes, a gun for an arm and a glove that’s softer than thousand thread count sheets. If you can find a rare player that exhibits all those attributes, who is also leading the club in home runs, you give that guy a long term deal, right?
? The Dynamic Duo ? pic.twitter.com/zsV4rdrXQy
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 21, 2016
We’ll look at a few reasons why I feel the Dodgers should extend Justin Turner’s contract, and, in the infamous words of John Malkovich as Teddy KGB in ‘Rounders’….
“PAY THAT MAN HIS MONEY“
A graduate of Mayfair High School in Lakewood, and Cal State Fullerton, Justin is a hometown kid. Growing up in Long Beach, Justin’s first official at bat was with the Orioles in Yankee stadium in 2009. The New York Mets claimed JT off of waivers in May of 2010, and was immediately sent to the minors.
He got called up to the bigs in April 2011, and rewarded the Mets by winning NL rookie of the month for May 2011. Turner displayed his versatility, filling in for an injured Ruben Tejada. Fortunately, the Mets, in their infinite wisdom, non-tendered Justin after the 2013 season, and as a Dodger fan, I will never be able to thank them enough.
Turner signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2014, and was invited to spring training. One month later, his contract was purchased by the big league club, and he was added to the active roster.
When the Dodgers brought Justin up to the big leagues, he dazzled, hitting .340 with 43 RBI in 288 at bats.
Ok, so he can hit regular season pitching … how does he fare in the postseason you ask?
In the 2015 playoffs, all Justin did was hit .526 with 6 doubles against his old team, the Mets.
This year, JT has flourished at the plate, hitting .278, leading the club with 23 homers, 72 rbi, and a career high .516 slugging percentage, all the while sporting a .983 fielding percentage at third base.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) August 19, 2016
His iconic bright orange hair, stylish extended beard … the guy is the complete package. In a year where one of our 2nd basemen is now our left fielder, and our right fielder is in OKC and his replacement is jinxed, it’s nice to have “El Rojo Chingon” anchoring third base.
Now, in January of this year, he signed a 1-year deal for $5M, and that deal is looking like a steal for the Dodgers. I expect him to earn roughly $7M per year, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get offered a 5-year deal.
Now, I’m aware that the geek squad is under strict orders to cut payroll, but here’s where I disagree; we’ve thrown a TON of cash at raw talent kids from other countries in the last year … why not for a man who has not only proven he can do it at the Major League level, but in the post season? Why not throw the bank at the red head from Long Beach?
I asked some of our Dodgers Nation staff about JT’s contract status and my bud Brandon put this list together as far as viable 3B options coming up:
Yunel Escobar (34)
David Freese (34)
Aaron Hill (35)
Martin Prado (33)
Justin Turner (32)
Luis Valbuena (31)
A whole lotta NOPE going on right there. Justin is 32, and IS ALREADY ON THE BALL CLUB, ALREADY MESHES WELL WITH THE TEAM, AND HAS ALREADY PROVEN HIS WORTH.
Another name that’s been tossed around is Evan Longoria … I mean, yeah … if this was 2013, I’d be all over it … but it’s not, and Longoria, while a proven great hitter in his own right, will cost us even more quality prospects.
I’m not even over the haul we gave up for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick, and we’re supposed to hand over more for a 3rd baseman who can be considered a lateral move at best?
No thank you. Oh, and I’m all too aware of what paying Justin means … Kenley Jansen is out there too, waiting to get paid, and I shudder at the thought of him in another uniform (and don’t for a second think that San Francisco won’t throw the bank at him). I choose Justin over Kenley, albeit barely. Gotta go with the guy who plays every day.
This club was built to contend, all the while being fiscally responsible. The front office has done a tremendous job in doing that, all the while building one of the deepest prospect pools in the game.
However, there are also times when a team has to recognize the quality they have in house, and reward it handsomely. It is time for this front office to show it’s baseball acumen by not only extending Justin Turner, but doing so in a handsome way. The hometown kid deserves it, and the Dodgers will be better off having “Big Red” at 3rd for years to come.