Justin Turner is in the final season of his four-year, $64MM contract with the Dodgers, but the star third baseman tells Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times that he hasn’t discussed a contract extension with the team yet. Extension talks are prohibited while the league is under a transaction freeze, but it’s nevertheless notable that they’d not yet broached the topic of a new contract when such negotiations were permissible.
Turner missed some time back in 2018 due to a fractured wrist and a hamstring strain but has mostly avoided the injured list in recent seasons. While he’ll turn 36 in the offseason, he’s been nothing short of excellent at the plate. Given all the star power up and down the Dodger lineup, it’s easy for Turner to get lost in the shuffle. Over the past three seasons, he’s posted an outstanding .307/.397/.519 batting line with 62 homers, 87 doubles and a triple. He’s been one of the toughest players in the league to strike out in that time — just 13 percent — while drawing a walk in just over 10 percent of his trips to the plate. Since 2017, the only qualified hitters in baseball with a better OBP are Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Juan Soto, Aaron Judge and Christian Yelich.
The Dodgers have some internal options. Edwin Rios and Chris Taylor are both capable of playing third base, and on a speculative basis, Corey Seager could slide over with Gavin Lux taking over at shortstop. Max Muncy has also appeared in at least 30 games at the hot corner in each of the past two seasons.
On the one hand, Turner’s outstanding offensive production and the relatively short-term commitment he’d command due to his age make a reunion a sensible pursuit for the Dodgers. Then again, the club pursued Anthony Rendon this winter with an eye toward Turner changing positions, so perhaps the preference is to lock in a younger third base option with better defensive contributions. (Turner once rated as a premium defender but has seen his numbers deteriorate a bit in his mid-30s.)
[Related: 2020-21 Free Agent Third Basemen]
If Turner ultimately reaches the open market, he’ll be among the best bats available in free agency, although he spoke fondly of the Dodgers when chatting with Castillo. “Obviously there’s a possibility that there’s no season and my Dodger career could’ve ended last year in the playoffs, which would be tough,” said Turner. “It would be sad. Sad to think about.”