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Dodgers Fans Decide Between DJ LeMahieu and Justin Turner



Welcome to 2021 where rumors are doing their best to spark a slow offseason hot stove but transactions remain nowhere to be found. While the Dodgers have been busy in their own way (adding several high reward bullpen arms), the big move fans are looking for still hasn’t happened. 

Or even the re-signing of any of LA’s own free agents like Joc Pederson or Justin Turner.

However, the rumors perking up has the fan base faced with a tough scenario. On Saturday, the rumor mill linked DJ LeMahieu to the boys in blue. Conceivably he would take over at third base for the aging Turner who reportedly has chatted with at least one other team in free agency.

Related: Andrew Friedman Preparing for the Possibility of a Justin Turner Departure

So that tough scenario? Do fans go with their heart and bring back JT, or look to the next few seasons with DJLM? We asked on Twitter, albeit mixing in a huge complimentary piece in this hypothetical with free agent closer Liam Hendriks. It turns out it’s a little harder than you’d think.

The fun (and cheating) answers in the comments often asked the question of why not all three? Which is easy when it’s not our money. But with more than 53% of the vote as of this writing, the package involving Turner and Hendriks has a sizeable lead, which is understandable.

You can do a deep dive into the numbers between JT and DJ over the last few seasons and see that Turner is the more potent bat…

But he just turned 36 and his surgically repaired knees are not getting any younger. Looking beyond the box score with Turner, however, and you add one huge part of the package he offers.

While Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen have been Dodgers longer than Justin Turner, neither of them carry the voice that JT does in that clubhouse. Still, even LA manager Dave Roberts has said — while not directly pointing to Turner — that he would love to have some change on the club going forward. Which, after more or less half a decade of relatively the same players makes sense.

Related: Dave Roberts Talks Justin Turner, Adding New Pieces, and More

Looking at the LeMahieu side of things, you see a Gold Glove caliber infielder coming off an absolutely elite season with the New York Yankees. In the shortened 60 game season, DJLM posted an incredible 177 wRC+ while winning the second batting title of his career. Plug that into the Dodger lineup in 2021 and you start to raise a bit of an eyebrow.

The argument on offensive production with LeMahieu will always point to his sizeable home/road splits. At home in his career (mostly played at Coors Field in Colorado and Yankee Stadium in New York), the slugger has .873 OPS versus .699 on the road.

Meanwhile, Justin Turner has been virtually the same batter at home and on the road throughout his career (.839 home / .837 road).

Add in Liam Hendricks to this hypothetical poll on Twitter and the majority of fans have seemingly voted correctly. In a bubble (I know, too soon…), Turner is the better option with the bat and the intangibles he brings to the LA locker room. However, the three-year deal he’s rumored to be asking for has him as the starting third baseman through his age 38 season. Less than ideal for a club that’s witnessing the competition around it closing the gap in the National League.

I’m glad I’m not Andrew Friedman.

NEXT: Padres GM Asked if His Team is Better Than the Dodgers

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

Comments

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  1. Not a tough decision. LeMahieu younger, more versatile, better fielder, less injury prone. In two years he’ll still be a star, JT will be on the bench.

    • LeMahieu much more expensive over the next 4 or 5 years. He will be 33 in July, so in two years age 35. There is no guarantee that he will be even as good as Turner who has been a substantially better run creator in his career. In LeMahieu’s career away from Yankee Stadium (short RF fence) he is below ML average (wRC+) while Turner as a Dodger is 42% better than average. Even if you count LeMahieu’s Yankee years his wRC+ is 11% above average. Comparing cost and performance Turner is by far the better choice for the Dodgers.

      • JT by far specially if Dodgers put him at 1st base as he covers less range at third . And is clutch lemahieu sucks on the road and demands 5 years for 100 million not even close and only wagon fans want lemahieu real dodger fans we prefer JT by far.

  2. This article is pure fantasy!
    Sorry for the Reality Check! LeMahieu is going to sign with one of the NY clubs. The Dodgers will either sign Turner or decide to go with internal resources.
    The Dodgers have pitching and Friedman may decide to wait until the season is going to start or before the end of the year trade deadline to make a move. The Team may believe that picking up Knebel, Morrow, and planning to utilize Gonzalez, Graterol, and whoever doesn’t make the rotation will be enough.
    It is not clear when the season will start as the owners and players union have different goals. The players want to play to earn their full contract amount the owners want to wait until they can have a full complement of fans so they do not lose money. No one can predict how this plays out for the Dodgers or the MLB.

  3. Not a tough decision. LeMahieu & Hendriks!
    Sign Seager to an extension!!
    Dodgers can afford it. They’ll probably raise ticket, concession & parking prices anyway so, let’s have a team that keeps winning championships!

  4. News flash: however DJ, JT and Hendricks rumors play out or don’t play out, I cannot see raising ticket or concession prices matter because with the current lockdowns in LA, no way will there suddenly be fans returning to the park. Or being allowed in Dodger Stadium.

  5. Why would a signing of DJ mean the exit door for JT? Put DJ at 2B and stop the Lux as a MLB caliber starting 2B experimemt and leave JT at 3B. Of course, this scenario could ne a non-starter if money is the issue. And Seager needs to get his extension now.

  6. While I don’t know this for sure, I believe the FO thinks that his days of being the Dodger 3rd baseman are over. So what’s more important to JT, being a Dodger or being a 3rd baseman? They would love to have him back, but would rather have him at 1B (and/or DH if it comes back to NL). If he does accept, now what do you do, Muncy, Lux, Rios & CT3 all vying for innings at 2B & 3B. Again, just a guess, but Muncy to 3rd and give Lux a legit full time shot at 2B. Yes he struggled in the short season, but the guy has all world talent and they aren’t ready to give up on him. If it doesn’t work by the break, maybe then cut your losses and move him at the deadline for an established 2B or revisit Arenado/Bryant to 3rd and Muncy back to 2nd. Before you comment on Muncy defensively at 3rd, I get it he’s below average there, but JT needs to go easy on those knees and legs to be productive, and that can’t happen while he’s still at 3rd.

  7. Both JT and DJ, third and second base covered. They have hinted at having Lux become at least a part time outfielder so he can fill in for Pollock vs righties and also give JT and DJ an occasional day off. Rios can also spell Muncy and Turner on some days. That is the Dodger way anyway. Roberts would love the versatility. It ain’t rocket science.

  8. I had come up in my own mind with the exact same dream lineup that you label the “2021 Death Row Lineup!” A very high batting average at the three hole is exactly what the Dodgers could use there. With the new relievers now in-house and Graterol likely the ace of the bullpen by the end of 2021, the roster is complete save one last thing. Add LeMahieu’s very high batting average at the three hole and bring on the Padres!!!

  9. I don’t know why so many think decrepit old JT has fallen completely apart since the World Series. His defense has plummeted so far since the series – where he was outstanding – he’s no longer capable of playing at the major league level.

    C’mon. The Dodgers need 2 years out of him to see if their 1st round draft pick at the position can play. JT’s as good a hitter, less expensive, and a shorter commitment than DJ. If they over pay him in year 3 to DH so be it.

  10. Dodgers won’t sign DJ, they just want to pump up the cost for whoever does sign him. Dodgers hope to snag Arenado next year when he leaves the Rockies and need the financial wiggle room to make a deal work.

    • The problem with that strategy is that it makes ALL future FA more expensive, even the ones the Dodgers ultimately sign.

  11. I’d go with the player(s) that gets the Dodgers to another World Series Championship. But that’s a cop-out, so I would go with Lemahieu, younger and he can play multiple positions.

  12. If JT goes elsewhere, to start the season, bring up Ruiz, put Will Smith and Rios at third. Let Lux play his way out of second base. Use the young wealth of talent and see how well it works out. There will be plenty of time to work out a trade during the season. Also, the Padres are over rated at this point because they are the Padres. Historically, they will implode.

  13. Yankees will sign Lemahieu, Turner leaves to AL club. While this is all still up in the air Dodgers should just go ahead and sign Liam Hendriks this helps fill a glaring and scary need.

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