NOV. 30: ESPN’s Mark Saxon tweeted yesterday that he was told recently that the Cardinals aren’t pursuing Turner, and he adds in a followup that he checked in again today and was told the same. While it’s perhaps possible that the Cards are fans of Turner but don’t view him as a priority right now, Saxon’s reports certainly seem to suggest that St. Louis is not actively pursuing Turner at this time.
NOV. 29: The Cardinals have at least some interest in free agent third baseman Justin Turner, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter link). It is not apparent from the report whether the club has spoken to Turner’s representatives.
As things stand, St. Louis appears to have a full slate of infielders, even after deciding to shift Matt Carpenter to first base for the coming season. With Aledmys Diaz at short, Kolten Wong at second, and Jhonny Peralta and Jedd Gyorko also available up the middle and at third, there are plenty of established options on hand.
Given that array of players, Morosi suggests that the Cards would likely need to find a taker for Peralta to facilitate an addition of Turner. The 34-year-old Peralta is coming off of a rough 2016 season, though he’s owed just $10MM entering the final season of his front-loaded free agent contract.
Turner, who just turned 32, would represent a nice upgrade for the Cardinals, though of course that’s also true of many other teams. Since reviving his career with the Dodgers, Turner owns a .296/.364/.492 batting line and has rated as a top-quality defender at the hot corner.
That production also means that Turner is likely to earn a hefty deal on the open market. MLBTR ranked him fourth among this year’s crop of free agents, predicting a five-year, $85MM contract. Because he turned down the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, moreover, Turner will come with the cost of draft compensation.
St. Louis has emphasized its interest in improving defensively, and Turner would certainly help in that regard. Though Peralta has typically rated well as a shortstop, and would seem to have the skillset for third base, he drew very poor metrics there last season.
Of course, the Cards also have a variety of other needs. Most pressing, perhaps, is the open outfield spot. The organization has been said to be hunting for a center fielder, with the idea of moving Randal Grichuk to a corner spot. Whether the team could pursue an upgrade there while also making a move on Turner remains to be seen.