If it seems like I’ve written a lot about Justin Turner since the end of the World Series, well, it’s because I have. And it’s still quite likely that he is re-signed by the Dodgers. However, every day that passes that he hasn’t re-signed makes it less likely, even if only incrementally.
We’re less than two weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting and the defending World Series champions still aren’t completely settled at third base. Earlier in the offseason, there were more options to replace Turner. Slowly, those options have diminished — Nolan Arenado, Ha-Seong Kim, DJ LeMahieu and Francisco Lindor have all been scooped up. So, who’s left?
From my article on Dec. 9, the remaining options are as follows:
Three internal options and one external. With a Bryant trading increasingly unlikely, that leaves three internal options. One external option I neglected to include is the Reds’ Eugenio Suarez. He’d be a solid fit, though he isn’t the same kind of hitter Turner is. But if Turner signs elsewhere, the Dodgers might be backed into a corner.
With the designated hitter all but dead in the National League for 2021, guys like Nelson Cruz — before he re-signed with the Twins two days ago — and Marcell Ozuna don’t make as much sense. But if the Dodgers are forced to go with the internal options above (and Chris Taylor, I suppose), they might have to find a thumper at another position. The thing is, there aren’t a ton of guys left who fit the description and the Dodgers don’t have any obvious openings for such a hitter. I guess Ozuna could still work, but it’d be complicated.
Then there’s a complete wild card that no one is talking about — and for good reason. There’s zero reason the A’s should consider trading Matt Chapman. But after their embarrassing proposal to try to keep Marcus Semien, coupled with the fact they’ve done virtually nothing this offseason, doesn’t bode well for his long-term prospects in Oakland.
I’m not going to turn the rest of this post into speculating about what it would take to get Chapman and the like, but let’s just say it would be quite substantial (think Gavin Lux+++). The A’s need a shortstop and Chapman would make all kinds of sense for LA, but if a deal of that magnitude were going to happen, it probably would have happened already — or at least been rumored. That’ll be a longform post for another time.
One thing working in the Dodgers’ favor is the market for Turner is almost non-existent. It isn’t dissimilar to his free agency four winters ago. The Cardinals would have been a sneaky good option, but they just acquired Arenado. The Nationals are probably the biggest threat since their current starting third baseman is Carter Kieboom, but they haven’t really shown a ton of interest. The Brewers could have been players, but they just signed Kolten Wong and, despite a vacancy at third, probably aren’t going to commit the necessary money and years to land Turner. The Braves would make sense, but they want to play Austin Riley at third base and would probably bring back Ozuna (and move Riley to left field) before signing Turner. The extreme outside shot of the Mets being interested is more of an internet rumor than anything else.
Other than those teams with varying degrees of interest, there isn’t much of a market for Turner. Andrew Friedman knows that and has a contingency plan in case something materializes for Turner elsewhere, but he’s also waiting Turner out to try to get the best deal. A difference of a few million bucks shouldn’t matter for the Dodgers, but here we are.
Hopefully this mini-saga wraps up soon.