After the cogs of the hot stove started to churn a couple days ago, things continued on today with moves of more substance as the team declined Justin Turner‘s option while also making qualifying offers to both Trea Turner and Tyler Anderson, but not Clayton Kershaw.
Justin Turner had a $16 million option for 2022 and the Dodgers will buy him out for $2 million instead. In his age-37 season, JT got off to arguably his slowest start ever, which understandably had many concerned. However, he rebounded to post a .278/.350/.438/.788 final line with a 116 OPS+, mostly thanks to a .319/.386/.503/.889 second half. Despite his age, JT played average defense for about a 2-2.5 WAR year in the end, which oddly enough makes $16 million not an unreasonable price tag.
That said, he’s clearly showing signs of age, and a once an elite playoff performer has struggled to a .128/.241/.192/.432 line over the last two campaigns where velocity trends ever higher. This appears to be more of an indication that the Dodgers prefer to move him into more of a utility role and to be a backup solution in case Miguel Vargas and other prospects don’t pan out at the hot corner.
Personally, I’m hoping JT returns on a lesser deal just because he’s been the team’s leader and has brought relative calm to the clubhouse over the years, in addition to still being a valuable bat. However, if this is indeed it for him then I only have thanks and praise for his tenure.
As far as the qualifying offers go, the deal this year is $19.65 million and everything the Dodgers have done makes sense. Remember though, losing a player they made a qualifying offer to doesn’t hugely benefit the Dodgers as it’s just a pick after the fourth round due to luxury tax penalties.
Trea Turner is going to be one of the most sought-after free agents, so that’s a no-brainer. I mean, he has this:
Tyler Anderson is coming off a career year where he made the All-Star team and was honestly one of the league’s better pitchers. He posted a 2.57 ERA with a 3.10 xERA and 3.31 FIP, so if he accepts that’s great, and if they’re able to work out a multi-year deal for less AAV, then that’s also great.
Clayton Kershaw is, of course, his own thing. They didn’t offer him last year either, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t deserving. Rather it was the Dodgers not making him rush into a decision — decisions on QO must be made within 10 days — and the same is likely the reason this time around as well. Hopefully he’ll be back, not just for his legacy but because the Dodgers need pitching.
Hard to find much issue with any of the moves today in themselves, though these are all going to matter going forward as the Dodgers look to fill holes at third, short, and in the rotation now.