After a 2019 playoff ouster that left the Los Angeles fanbase in collective despair, Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman is likely to be faced with several challenging decisions this winter. However, in the event that his front office decides to pursue superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon, it appears they won’t face any opposition from incumbent third bagger Justin Turner. According to a report from Andy McCullough of The Athletic, Turner would be open to a position change if LA ultimately decides to seek a Rendon acquisition (link).
Before the Dodgers’ appearance in the NLDS, Turner was asked how he would respond if his team pursued Rendon–even if such a pursuit meant he had to change his spot on the diamond. “I’ve bounced around [the diamond] my whole career,” Turner responded. “I don’t care.” While this hardly registers as a ringing endorsement of the idea, Turner’s hypothetical openness is worthy to note when considering how Friedman could possibly retool a roster that went 106-56 in the 2019 regular season.
As McCullough notes, Rendon’s previously stated disinterest in playing deep into his 30s pairs well with the Dodgers characteristic aversion to long-term contracts. In a piece from The Athletic’s Rustin Dodds from a few weeks back, Rendon was asked to imagine what he will likely be doing at age 36, when he reaches the current age of teammate Howie Kendrick. “Hopefully not playing baseball,” Rendon said. “Probably sitting on the couch hanging out with my kids.” If the Texas product is true to his word, then it’s likely he, at 29, will be seeking a deal of no more than six or seven years this offseason.
Turner, 34, is still a third baseman worthy of being mentioned in Rendon’s rarified air. His .290/.372/.509 line in 2019 was par for the course as far as his Dodgers tenure goes–since coming to Los Angeles in 2014, the CS Fullerton product has been a .302/.381/.506 hitter (141 wRC+). Turner has one year and $20MM remaining on the four-year, $64MM pact he agreed to with L.A. back in 2016.
If the Dodgers do indeed have an interest in bringing Rendon, a potential world champion, into their fold, they may have to do a bit of CBT rejiggering. With the 2020 luxury tax line set at $208MM, Los Angeles may say goodbye to impending free agents Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu this offseason; it’s worth noting that the club will no longer be on the hook for Homer Bailey’s salary moving forward, either. Still, arbitration raises are coming due to Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, and a little-known upstart named Cody Bellinger. As McCullough notes, a hypothetical Rendon addition, its implications on Turner aside, might necessitate the departure of a player like Pederson or Enrique Hernandez if the club is intent on avoiding luxury penalties.