Third baseman and reigning World Series champion Justin Turner will hit the free-agent market this offseason. The 36-year-old is coming off a strong season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a .307/.400/.460 slash line with 1.3 WAR. He solidified the Dodgers lineup in the three-hole throughout the regular season and playoffs. Despite some infrequent injury issues, Turner remains an above-average hitter that would benefit any offense in baseball. He will probably sign a deal for two or three years. Here are five potential destinations for Justin Turner.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The most natural fit for Turner this offseason would be a return to Los Angeles. Turner has become one of the most iconic players in recent years for the Dodgers. In his seven years with the team, he has a .302 batting average and a .886 OPS, with 116 home runs and 406 RBIs. This past year, Turner set the Dodgers’ franchise records for postseason hits and home runs. His contributions to the team over the last several years are difficult to quantify.
The Dodgers will probably be happy to have Turner back. Other than a slight dip in his power numbers — he only hit four home runs in 2020 — Turner has shown very few signs of regression late in his career. His offensive production and clubhouse leadership should be highly valued when the Dodgers consider him. Unless Los Angeles ships in another third baseman, perhaps Nolan Arenado, they are the clear favorites to land Turner.
The Atlanta Braves are a prime fit for Justin Turner because of their championship aspirations. A proven veteran winner like Turner would raise the confidence and ceiling of a team that has won three straight NL East titles. As for the offense, the Braves finished second in the NL in runs per game in 2020. With a lineup that already consists of reigning MVP Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves will have one of the most dangerous offenses in baseball whether they add a bat this offseason or not.
It’s hard to imagine Turner departing Los Angeles for their NLCS opponent, but the Braves may be aggressive this winter. If Atlanta is serious about contending for a championship in the next few years, Turner figures to be a good short-term fit.
The Washington Nationals will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season that followed up their championship run. Their pitching staff remains a strength, and their offense is centered around young studs Trea Turner and Juan Soto. Justin Turner would come in as the third-best position player on the team, measured by 2020 WAR.
Turner would greatly improve an offense that was middle-of-the-pack in 2020. Defensively, Washington could get creative with the versatility of young infielders Carter Kieboom and Trea Turner. The Nats are reportedly interested in upgrading their infield, so Turner is a natural fit here.
The Texas Rangers offense was a glaring weakness in 2020, leading to a rather disappointing season. Texas was last in the AL in both batting average at .217 and runs per game at 3.73. While the front office may try to make a bigger splash this offseason, Justin Turner would help elevate the offense out of the basement in the AL. Turner would slot into the middle of the order with Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Nick Solak.
The Rangers would have to rethink their defensive alignment if they wanted to bring Turner on board, considering Kiner-Falefa is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball. Plus, their top prospect Josh Jung looks like the long-term solution at third base. There’s room for flexibility, however, with the DH and the defensive versatility of the Texas roster. If the Rangers believe in Turner’s offensive potential, then some reshuffling should be worth it.
With Brian Anderson starting regularly, the Miami Marlins aren’t particularly in need of a third baseman. With the fourth-worst offense by OPS in the NL, however, Miami should consider bolstering its lineup. Justin Turner’s high-quality at-bats would be hugely valuable to this young offense. Anderson and Turner have experience at other positions that would allow some flexibility to accommodate another third baseman. For instance, Turner could move to second base, where he played early on in his career. Another option is for Anderson to shift to right field, where he played 55 games in 2019.
The 2020 Marlins surpassed expectations behind a talented young roster, and they’ll be looking to carry the momentum into next season. Turner would come in as a veteran clubhouse leader, and a reunion with manager Don Mattingly would be a nice touch. Energizing the lineup with a proven winner like Turner could turn the Marlins into one of the most exciting teams in baseball.
Justin Turner is one of the more intriguing free agents on the market. His career resume includes an All-Star nod, NLCS MVP honors, and a World Series ring. Turner provides value both as an offensive playmaker and a team leader. Unless another club comes in and shakes up the market, he’ll probably end up back in Los Angeles.
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