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Dodgers: Evaluating Justin Turner and the Future of Third Base

Why re-signing Justin Turner to a two-year deal helps the Dodgers for 2021 and beyond.



Justin Turner is one of seven Dodger free agents this offseason. For the last six seasons, Turner has been the heart and soul of the Dodgers. At just a few days shy of 36 years old, fresh of the Dodgers 2020 title, his free agency presents an interesting scenario for the LA front office.

Do they retain Turner or do they give the promising Edwin Rios the starting job next season?

What if they did both?

Turner, a lifetime .292 hitter, can still contribute to the Dodgers and is worth a two-year contract. Offering a one-year contract would be an insult. Offering a three-year contract would be an oversight.

Youngster Edwin Rios had his moments this past season, but championship teams rarely hand over starting roles to 25-year-olds with 139 major league plate appearances.

Signing JT to a two-year deal would give the Dodgers additional time to see if Rios is a legitimate MLB starter. Rios simply hasn’t played enough to determine his long-term viability in the post-Turner future for the Dodgers. There isn’t enough data to support letting JT walk with Rios as the only other option.

The Dodgers can play Turner three or four days a week and spell him with Rios to keep his legs, and hamstrings, fresh. JT hopefully stays healthy and the Dodgers get to evaluate Rios.

Would Turner turn down more lucrative offers elsewhere and accept a two-year deal with the Dodgers?

To make things even more interesting, what if Turner is suspended for part of the 2021 season from the 2020 World Series celebration fallout? Will there be a DH for the NL next year?

At the end of the day, the Dodgers should re-sign Turner for the present and evaluate Rios for the future.

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Written by Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Number one fear in life is dying without ever seeing a Dodgers Championship. Host of The Series Sweep Podcast - link on my Twitter (@EEulau).

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  1. I agree. Definitely resign JT for 2 yrs.The Dodgets need good right handed bats. They have Cody Hoese coming up in a yr or 2 and he is a solid right handed hitter.

    • I agree, but 32 mil? That seems like a lot for a guy who clearly struggled at times this past season seeing the ball at the plate. His Strikeouts were unusually higher this year. Might Justin need glasses or contacts or laser surgery to correct his vision. There is no doubt he can still field his position but his batting was not up to par May be one year guaranteed and a second year with a lesser salary laden with incentives. Maybe they even offer him a job as a player/coach.

      Al Campanis once said the that it was better to let a player go one year too early than one year too late and most the time he was right. I guess it is really up to Justin as to what he will accept. No one knows their body better than him.

  2. As Daniel states the Dodgers need reliable right handed batters. Rios is a left handed batter with 100 point splits. We have recently heard the Dodgers discussing using Will Smith at 3rd as he is a very good right handed threat at the plate. The Dodgers promoted a player Devin Mann to the 60 man roster that was originally a 2nd baseman, as was Turner, and bats right and has begun to hit with power.
    With Turner budget money will be tight with the Pandemic and the Dodgers may be flirting with going over the Major League Luxury tax again I would first offer him a 1 year deal with incentives and an option. All of the baseball teams lsot money in 2020 and the 2021 season has a lot of uncertainty. I believe the Dodger will be very cautious with money.
    Jansen and Kershaw’s large contracts end in 2021 and Price’s in 22. They will have some flexibility after that. If I were the Dodgers I would attempt to buy out Seager and extend him for several years. I would begin talks with Bellingers agent. Will players decide to sign for less and get guaranteed money or wait for the Pandemic impact to lessen and sign in another year?

  3. As we have heard over and over, prior to Betts, Turner was the “intangibles” guy on the team. We’re gonna lose good club house guys Pedersen and Hernandez anyway, let’s not overthink this one and make it worse. A two year contract with a mutual option (or maybe a performance vesting) for a third makes sense Yes, it is time for “transition” but it doesn’t need to be an abrupt one.

  4. Transition & change is constant in life and baseball. Hopefully they sign Turner to no more than 2 years, I would offer one with an option.
    Let Kike, Joc, Pedro go. Too many prospects that need to be moved up to overpay for bench players. The Dodgers have to budget for big money contracts for Seager with Bellinger, Buehler, Urias, all due pay days in the coming year or two…

    • What concerns me about Turner is his age, what MLB is going to do about his suspension & the Pandemic issues/lack of fans/revenue. Max. 2 year contract.Not sure if Rios can be full-time 3B, plus he is LH-hitter. I would go after DJ Mathieu,, yes he will cost more, DJ is 32, RH-hitter, can play 3B, 2B, & 1B.

  5. I really like JT. A wonderful player, a great teammate, a tremendous additional to the team. However, LA has many options for 3rd base (Muncy, Rios, Smith, Seager, etc.) and paying a lot of money to JT will prevent the team from spending it on other priorities. His health is iffy at best and it is likely that his skills will deteriorate over the next 2 years. Unless LA can get a team-friendly or incentive-laden contract signed, it should thank him for his service and move on.

    • Yup. Yup. Exactly. Turner was a 2b initially so let him play some innings there. The toughest part of this scenario is getting Seager to put his heart into it. He will have leverage after 2021. Don’t want to lose him. Lindor is a generational short stop. His presence will be invaluable for the Dodgers.

      • I rather invest in Lemahieu, Cory is fine at SS, and give Rios, who looks legit, and Hoese a chance. I hope they keep the DH, and then Turner for 2 more years makes a lot more sense, he’s too important a presence on the team to dump him after a WS win. With no DH, you are paying a lot for a declining player.

  6. The news of JT’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Turner is a second half power hitter – except 2015 – and 2020 didn’t have a second half. Furthermore, his defense in the playoffs should have shown that he still plays the position.

    Will he slow down some and require more days off? Sure. But you’re still getting a player that puts up borderline all-star numbers, is big-time clutch, and – as stated numerous times – is the heart and soul of the team.

    The sorry MLB office may very well issue a suspension for him but let’s not make it out like a PED duration.

    JT is an LA guy and, almost without a doubt, will take a hometown discount. Something like 2 years at $24M is a no-brainer for both sides.

  7. It goes to show what a horrible person Manfred is as Commisioner. He’s willing to suspend Turner for his actions in wanting to be with his teammates during the WS celebration, but yet he lets those disgusting Astros players get away with murder!.. Re- sign JT in any event.

  8. Bring JT back for two years at 22Mil
    Trade Lux Rios and Goselin to Cleveland for Francisco Lindor
    Move Corey to 3rd base

    or
    Bring JT back
    Sign DJ Lamehugh to play second

  9. Steve nailed it: sign Turner for two years for DH and backup at 3B and 1B. More importantly, trade for Lindor and move Seager to 3B. Lindor is smaller and more nimble, plus a right hand bat. Seager will last longer physically at 3B.

    As to the young players coming up, I recently wrote Freidman (doubt he reads it tho) and suggested getting OF’s Cody Thomas and DJ Peters up and transitioning into LF and RF, respectively. When its time, those two become the corner OF’s (both have cannon arms) and move Betts to CF. Then move Belli to 1B, and look to move Muncy (his value will never be higher).

    So, the outfield would have plus arms at the corners and all-world Betts in CF. The infield would consist of Seager, Lindor, Lux and Belli plus Smith and Barnes.

    To make the money work, you have expiring contracts of Jansen, Kershaw (although another candidate for a two-year deal, albeit a bit less than now!), with Price, Muncy, Kelly, and Taylor all coming off the books the following year. Heck, I’d even float the idea of paying Price a $6 mil signing bonus and convert his remaining $64 mil in the next two years to $6.4 mil over 10 years. That will make tons of room for Seager, Belli, Lindor, and Beuhler next year!

    Having dealt Pollock in the Lindor deal, there’s another big savings. By year 2023, the only player signed right now is Betts. Think about that!!

    Besides, why keep ARBing your top young talent, who’ve already proven themselves, until they’re 29 or 30 before giving them a big contract which would then take them out to 36-38?! Sign Seager (NLCS & WS MVP), Bellinger (NL MVP), and Beuhler (absolute ace) NOW instead of when they’re 30. The end of those contracts would be a disaster. Pay them in their prime!

      • If they extend him now at SS pay, and the possibility of going to 3B may be in the cards, I think he does. Any trade won’t happen until February anyway. Or, at the trade deadline. He will have a longer career at 3B though. Look at Turner!

        And, of course, Machado wanted to play shortstop too! After sitting down with the Padres brass, he agreed to stay at 3B. Team first!

    • Only problem with extending Seager, Belly and Buehler is their agent…Scot Boras doesn’t extend, he waits and exploits the free agency. He definitely isn’t talking extension for Buehler and Seager after the playoffs they had and how bad Belly played this year. I’m in the camp of signing LeMahieu and use Lux and Ruiz to trade for Lindor. Then you have two SS to work with extending like they did Betts. If you thought last years offense was good, look at this 1. Betts 2. Lindor 3. LeMahieu 4. Seager 5. Smith 6. Belly 7. Taylor/Pollock 8. Muncy, it’s damn near an All-Star Tesm, especially with the pitching!!

    • Well said, looks like Dodgers bloggers are not as ignorant as I think. “Dodgers since ’68” is the only person seeing Cody Thomas’ potential – this dude us a beast, if he can hit for contact, he’ll be just as good if not better than the other Cody #35. Those not familiar with Cody Thomas, just watch his Spring Training highlights, all his homeruns are 20 – 30 ft farther than everyone else’s.

  10. Yes, it is. A 2-year contract with the one-year extension if he is healthy. I am sure that he will be most agreeable to that offer. In 3 years he will be nearly 40 which is ancient for a ballplayer! And, yes, he wants to retire as a Dodger.

  11. Yes to Lindor. Seager to third. Rios and Lux and a pitcher will have to go.

    Yes to DJ LaMahue.

    No to JT.

  12. The Dodgers are not going to get Lindor. They have to pay Seager, Bellinger, and Buehler very soon. No team – not even the Yankees or Dodgers – can pay $30M a year at every position.

  13. Turner stays, Rios stays, Seager stays, Hernandez stays, and others. Why take apart a team that just won The WORLD SERIES? One more pitcher may help. Hader?

  14. Justin Turner deserves respect. Afterall he has been the most consistent hitter for the Dodgers since 2016. He gets along with teammates and is also helpful to LA Community. You just don’t let a quality professional / human being walk from you organization. Time to open the check book for JT extension: 3 years, $66 million. Pay the guy. He just won the World Series for you, Guggenheim Group.

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