Dodgers Expected To Sign Unknown Utility Infielder, So Let’s Get Ready To Welcome Justin Turner

I think we all knew that the Dodgers were going to need to bring in some additional infield depth, because it’s all we’ve been talking about lately. This team may or may not have a second baseman, they have a shortstop who can’t stay healthy for more than ten minutes at a time, and they have a third baseman who just put up two of the worst seasons we’ve ever seen before rebounding last year.

Pitchers and catchers report in seven days, so time is drawing short, and that’s why this isn’t surprising:

So.. who is available to fit that description? (No, not Emilio Bonifacio, who is suddenly a hot name after being DFA’d by Kansas City, because he’s not a free agent, though we’ll probably have a post on him tomorrow.)

I was originally planning to come up with a list of names and sort through them, but then I looked over at MLB Trade Rumors‘ list of free agents, and saw this:

Second Basemen

None

and…

Shortstops

Stephen Drew (31)
Nick Green (35)

Oh. So let’s dispense with the games and guess that there’s a 99% chance this is going to be Justin Turner, who is listed on MLBTR with the third basemen along with Brandon Inge and Placido Polanco. I say this not because I have any particular inside information, but because the pieces just fit. First of all, the options are so, so limited, at least if we’re assuming that the player at least saw some amount of big league time in 2013. Yes, Inge counts, even if he hit .204/.261/.321 over the last three years and is 37, but he can’t really play the middle infield. Polanco is 38 and hasn’t played anywhere but third with any sort of regularity since 2009.

Turner isn’t at all great, but he’s only 29, can sorta play second, short, and third, and reportedly received interest from several teams this winter. There’s also this: he’s a Long Beach native and a Cal State Fullerton alum, and he’s married to a UCLA alum, with whom he currently lives in the LA area. No, “being from LA” doesn’t automatically make someone a Dodger, but I can’t imagine that it hurts that his wife is constantly tweeting with and at good friend Cat Belanger, who works in the Dodgers marketing department.

I’m just making connections that may not be there, but if he’s unable to find a guaranteed deal, I don’t imagine that he’s going to do better than come home to a team that has a chance to win, a big chance of playing time, and family connections. Again, though, there’s just not that much else out there. Ramon Santiago found a job. Cesar Izturis found a job. (!) Yuniesky Betancourt is employed. (!!) Chris Nelson is off the board. Omar Quintanilla is gone. Jayson Nix is gone. That leaves Turner and… Cody Ransom maybe? (Update: Cody Ransom will be playing in Japan next season, per Chris Jackson) There’s also Jeff Baker, who I’ve long said I would love for his ability to crush lefty pitching, though he may yet get a major league deal, and can’t handle shortstop.

Separately, Dylan Hernandez adds that the team may sign an “international player” to increase the infield depth, and while it’s fruitless to attempt to guess on that — considering the huge possibility it may be someone we’ve never heard of — it wouldn’t be at all unexpected if it were Rusney Castillo, who Dustin profiled in January.


About

Mike wrote daily for over six long years (2007-13) about the Dodgers at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, which was named 2011′s “Best Sports Blog” by LA Weekly. He can currently be found writing multiple times per week at FanGraphs and ESPN, has been a producer and editor for Sports on Earth, and built The Hardball Times. He lives in New York City and will probably be asleep or on vacation when awesome things happen.