MLB Free Agent Profile: Justin Turnerby Joel Dorcas November 3, 2020 4 comments
Like a fine wine, perhaps red, Justin Turner keeps getting better. 2020, although abbreviated and unusual, was extra sweet for Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Finally all the talent the organization gathered together for so many consecutive seasons resulted in a World Series Championship, the team’s first since 1988. One of the main cogs for this ultra-talented engine has been veteran third baseman and soon to be 36-year-old, Big Red.
It wasn’t exactly a smooth road to success for one of the better pure hitters of today’s game. Turner would pay his dues with a few organizations before being a mainstay and everyday player at the big league level. Originally drafted all the way back in 2005 by the New York Yankees in the 29th round, J.T. would re-enter the draft and be scooped up by the Cincinnati Reds, this time in the seventh round a year later. Fast forward to 2009, Turner finally gets his chance with the Baltimore Orioles. He plays just a dozen games and would go on waivers before getting picked up by the New York Mets. Turner’s brief stint in New York turned out to be fairly productive, it also showed that he belonged in the bigs. He was mostly relegated to a platoon situational player but played multiple positions and hit for a decent batting average.
Making it Big in Hollywood
It appeared that Turner was headed to a very ordinary career until he took his talents to Los Angeles. 2014 and 2015 at 29 years of age, Turner would all of a sudden break out into a premier hitter. Turner hit .340 in ’14 and socked 16 bombs while hitting .294 the following year. These seasons would be the firsts of seven with the Dodgers organization. Over the span, his tenure with the NL West powerhouse has resulted in a very impressive .302/.352/.503 slash line.
Turner solidified himself as an everyday third baseman and a mainstay in the top half of the order. His stellar play resulted in an all-star selection in 2017. Later on in the playoffs that season he would be the NLCS MVP. Turner’s elite hitting skills would never dwindle when the games mattered most. In 72 career postseason games, he has hit .295 with a .899 OPS. Just recently Big Red slugged .720 in the six games it took to outlast the Tampa Bay Rays for this year’s World Series.
In the unusual season shortened season of 2020, it was business as usual. Turner played just 42 games but hit .307 and had an on-base percentage of .400. The power numbers weren’t spectacular, four homers, and 23 RBI, but he was still a really tough out.
Coming off a four-year contract that paid him an average of 16 million, one would think that he could fetch at least that and maybe more. But the landscape is completely different given the circumstances with teams perhaps a little gun-shy during these uncertain times. A one or two year deal could be a common contract for these big-ticket stars.
Top Landing Spots
Los Angels Dodgers:
The Dodgers have plenty of depth and could sign fellow free agent Enrique Hernandez who is seven years younger and bank on him up ticking his production much like Turner did when he was 29. They also have Edwin Rios who showed good flashes of power this season. We haven’t even mentioned Chris Taylor and a good crop that’s been building in the minor leagues. Still, Turner means so much to this organization, a two-year deal is definitely in the cards here.
Toronto Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays showed that they are getting closer to being a legit contender given their 2020 postseason appearance. They still have gaping holes at pitcher and at third base. Travis Shaw is a decent power bat but Turner would do wonders for this very inexperienced yet talented lineup. The Jays are expected to make some noise this offseason despite some uncertainty as to exactly where their games will be played.
Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, St.Louis Cardinals:
All three of these teams are in need of a corner infielder, especially the Brewers and the Cardinals. Orlando Arcia is the penciled-in third baseman for the “Crew” while the Cardinals are still paying for Matt Carpenter to strike out often. Atlanta has to decide if they want to bring back power slugger Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield. If they don’t they could put Turner at third and move Austin Riley to share an outfield spot with Adam Duvall.
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