AdministratorJanuary 11, 2021 at 2:08 pm
There is a lot of speculation about Justin Turner’s contract demands and the Dodgers wanting a right-handed bat for the lineup. A reunion between the 2 seems like a perfect marriage, right? Let me explain why the Dodgers should let Turner walk.
Justin Turner has been here for 7 years, and it’s been a great 7 years. He came home and completely turned his career around. Not only was he good on the field, in the clubhouse but also in the community. There is no doubting his impact with this organization. He’s given us great moments and besides Joc Pederson has there been a better Dodgers postseason hitter? So, with all that being said why should the Dodgers let Turner walk?
Before we deep dive into things, let’s start with the basics. Turner is 36 years old and often injured. Even if it’s not season-ending injuries they are injuries that cause him to miss a chunk of games at a time. He’s not finished a full season and has averaged 113 games in his 7 years here. A fantastic hitter while healthy but that’s always the issue with Turner. There’s also talk of Justin wanting a 4-year deal. A 4 year deal at what cost though? That’s a little rich to be giving a 36-year-old who misses a lot of time on the field.
Can Turner even keep up with his production or are there signs he’s slowing down? Well, by just looking at the basic stats he appears to not be slowing down any. He hit .307 on the year and had an Ops+ of 135 which was actually better than the previous year where he finished at 131. But it was a shortened season, how would he finish with another 60ish games? Turner also doesn’t help all that much against the Dodgers’ biggest need and that’s against left-handed pitching. He’s actually a better hitter against right-handed pitching in his career. Let’s look a little deeper into him as a hitter though.
In each of the last 3 years, his slugging percentage and his Ops have declined. A pretty big decline in slugging as well, it’s not likely it goes up with age either. He could still be a pretty good hitter for average no question about that but is there a chance that will start to decline as well? Turner’s strikeout rate has gone up each of the last 3 years, he’s chasing pitches more and swinging and missing more. It’s not completely dire but there is a steady decline that’s a cause for concern especially for someone who’s already 36.
Turner’s defense has also been in steady decline these last few years. Now of course the easy remedy for that is putting him at DH. But the Dodgers having 1 steady DH severely handicaps them and their depth by doing that. We saw how well they did when they were able to put multiple people in that DH spot throughout the year. It takes the bat out of Pollock’s hands and Rios as well. I think the Dodgers like their flexibility there being able to give players a day off their feet, or playing them against a handed pitcher they hit well but don’t necessarily want to put him out on the field. Tying this position to Turner handicaps them, I think.
Justin Turner is seen as a clubhouse leader, as well as a community hero and honestly, that’s great. There’s no doubt that he’s a great person and he would be missed. But Kershaw and Betts are still in the clubhouse as leaders as well as rockstars in communities as well. So is David Price who wasn’t with the team due to Covid. So, while yes losing him would suck in this way there are others who could and can help the young guys while also being a pseudo coach for the rest of the guys.
Justin Turner isn’t a bad option by any stretch of the imagination, but him being 36, often injured, slightly showing signs of declining, him wanting a 4-year deal until he’s 40 and there being better and younger options plus he’s now won a championship it just makes sense to move on now. The Dodgers and Turner could meet in the middle at 2 years and that would give the Dodgers production until Kody Hoese is ready but is it really worth it to pay an aging 3rd baseman 15+ million for him to miss 50+ games a year? I think there are better resources personally. DJ LeMahieu can be a better player while also providing great defense and positional versatility. They could get younger and better with Kris Bryant who despite his strikeouts is a better overall hitter than Turner and the career numbers play out that way.
He’s now done it all here, in my opinion, it’s now time for the Dodgers to get younger and someone better so they can continue on this run that they’re currently on. I imagine I know your guys’ thoughts, but what do you guys think the Dodgers should do with Turner?
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