Dodgers Becoming More Confident In Re-Signing Justin Turner
By Steve Adams | December 12, 2016 at 7:33am CDT
The Dodgers are becoming more confident that they can re-sign third baseman Justin Turner, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter links). The two sides have been in talks on a four-year contract recently, Olney adds.
Turner, who turned 32 three weeks ago, has been one of the Dodgers’ top offseason priorities. He’s fresh off a brilliant season that saw him bat .275/.339/.493 with 27 homers, 34 doubles and outstanding defense at the hot corner (+7 DRS, +14 UZR). That marked the third consecutive season of exceptional offensive production from Turner, who signed a minor league contract with Los Angeles in February 2014 after being non-tendered by the Mets and went on to break out in Chavez Ravine. In 386 games and 1383 plate appearances as a member of the Dodgers, Turner has slashed .296/.364/.492.
Bringing back the right-handed-hitting Turner would be a boost to a Dodgers team that ranked last in the Majors against left-handed pitching in 2016 in terms of on-base percentage, slugging percentage and wRC+. However, it should also be noted that Turner’s own uncharacteristic struggles against southpaws last year contributed heavily to L.A.’s woes against in that department. Turner hit .282/.359/.465 against left-handers in his first two seasons with the Dodgers but slumped to a .209/.303/.337 mark last year. His strikeout and walk rates against lefties remained encouraging, although he sported just a .230 average on balls in play against lefties, which obviously proved to be a significant detriment.
Jason Martinez of Roster Resource/MLBTR projects the Dodgers for a $204MM Opening Day payroll as it is, even without re-signing Turner, so adding him back into the mix would presumably push the team’s 2017 payroll north of $220MM (though the deal could of course be backloaded to some extent). That number would continue to rise if the team were to re-sign Kenley Jansen, another top target, or add an experienced arm to replace their closer in the event that Jansen signs elsewhere. The Dodgers will, at least, be free of their obligations to both Carl Crawford and Alex Guerrero next winter, which will result in about $28MM coming off their payroll. They’ll also be able to buy out Andre Ethier’s $17.5MM mutual option. The following offseason will see Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu come off the books, creating plenty of opportunity for the Dodgers to shed some significant payroll and luxury tax considerations in the next two years.