The Dodgers remain without a third baseman for the 2021 season. Justin Turner — a top third baseman — remains on the free agent market. This seems like an easy match made in blue heaven, but we’re now entering the third week of January and rumors of any deal are silent.
Throughout the offseason, it’s seemed like the two sides would come together on an agreement sooner or later. However, with LA’s failed pursuit of two-time batting champion DJ LeMahieu in mind, it could be that the Dodgers and Turner are further apart in negotiations than previously expected. Particularly with the 36-year-old Turner seeking a 4-year pact and the club offering closer to 2 years.
Now, according to The Athletic, the Dodgers continue to leave their options open. Moreover, MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal is saying that free agent shortstop Marcus Semien is high on LA’s list of alternatives.
Semien, 30, would play third base or multiple positions for the Dodgers rather than displace Corey Seager at shortstop, though if he signed a multi-year deal he might be an option to return to short in 2022 if Seager departed as a free agent.
The fit wouldn’t be overly natural, but the former Gold Glove runner up as a shortstop has played some third base in his big league career. In 50 games over 2013 and 2014, the infielder committed 13 errors in 134 chances, which is less than ideal. Meanwhile, for the people that consistently ask to see Corey Seager moved to third base, just stop. He won’t do it. The World Series MVP staunchly considers himself a shortstop at this point in his career and is looking to prove critics wrong in 2021.
If the Dodgers go the Semien route, they pick up a potentially potent bat for the middle of the order. He finished third in MVP voting behind Mike Trout and Trashtro star Alex Bregman in 2019. That season, he posted a .285/.369/.522 triple slash line with 33 home runs and a 137 wRC+. However, in 2020 he fell back to earth, posting below league average numbers which are more in line with his career.
The short version? His 2019 may have been an outlier on the back of his baseball card.
If the Dodgers wish to go with more athletism on the roster, Semien would be a solid pick up. But if a proven clubhouse leader with still elite bat-to-ball skills is preferred, Justin Turner is the better route. Even at 36 years old.
Pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training in about a month. But the longer JT is out on the market, the more awkward a return starts to feel.