There’s little doubt that Justin Turner is the top Dodger on the free agent market this offseason. The now 36-year-old is coming off another quality season in blue where he posted a 140 wRC+ in 42 regular season games. However, it’s mid-December and rumors involving the veteran third baseman have been slow.
Last month, it was reported that the Toronto Blue Jays were connected to the 2020 world champ, but not much has materialized beyond that. With that in mind, baseball insider JP Morosi joined MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show this week where he shared his expectations for Turner this winter.
The interest is still there for the Blue Jays, but I think that the overwhelming likelihood is Turner returns to the Dodgers. He has been revered in that clubhouse for a long time. Yes, he just turned 36 … Turner’s camp is asking right now for a 3-year deal. So that would be playing at ages 36, 37, and 38. I’m not sure he gets that third year unless the Dodgers are convinced that someone else is truly interested at that level of a 3-year deal.
So we’re hardly ready to say that JT’s return to the Dodgers is a done deal here. Morosi also explored how the free agent could work for the Blue Jays, a team in need of veteran presence — particularly in the infield. Still, a return to LA would make much more sense for Turner and the Dodger franchise.
Making It Work
Since current ownership came on board, the Dodgers have refused to hand out long-term deals, particularly to players in their late 30s. This is as much a rule of team president Stan Kasten more than anything. But in the case of Justin Turner, it could be a case where that rule may be broken.
A 3-year deal is not the longest contract in the world, but when we’re looking at a player that would be 38 by the end of it, it’s best to err on the side of caution. And if the club hopes to see what some of the younger players or prospects coming up can do at the big league level, blocking them with an aging veteran could lead to bigger issues down the road.
In all likelihood — as Morosi said — Turner returns to LA. However, it’s important that it’s on a deal that makes sense for both sides.