It's Time For Dodgers to Extend Justin Turner's Contract
Justin Turner is the Dodgers' leader. He's their best clutch performer, he's well overdue to be named the team's first captain since Davey Lopes in 1979 and he's playing with an expiring contract. It's time for Los Angeles to reach out and get a new deal done. Right now; if not today then, say by mid-August.
Until recently, I wouldn't have suggested an in-season re-signing because the Dodgers have never gone that route, choosing instead to wait until the offseason to make these types of decisions. But the Mookie Betts' blockbuster extension changed all that. At least, for the team's most important players, of which Turner certainly qualifies.
Examples of the player's devotion to the community and his individual game highlights are too many to list here, but let's dig into a few of the numbers, shall we?
As of this morning, JT's 12-season career mark is as follows: .292/.368/.470, with 120 home runs, 477 RBIs and 31.2 bWAR. More importantly, his seven-year numbers as a Dodger are these: .302/.382/.505, with 112 homers, 388 RBIs and 29.2 bWAR. In 137 seasons going all the back to 1884, Turner ranks 10th in franchise history in both slugging percentage (.506) and in OPS (.887). That's L.A. and Brooklyn.
Even more importantly, Turner's postseason numbers are these: .310/.411/.520, 13 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 35 RBIs in 54 games and an even 200 at bats, all of them with Los Angeles. Extrapolating simply for 154 games played, JT's October numbers would translate like this: .310/.411/.520, 39 doubles, three triples, 27 homers and 105 RBIs. The point is, the Dodgers don't have a lot of men who up their game in the fall. Justin Turner does, and you need to hold these types of players closely.
He's been an All-Star, a National League Championship Series MVP, an NL MVP top-10 finisher twice and is off to a fine start in 2020 (.308/.424/.462, with an MLB-leading four doubles and six RBIs). The price to retain Turner's service is increasing as we speak, and there is no question that L.A. can afford a reasonable-yet-generous contract extension for this particular player. Especially for this player.
Yes, the particular player is 35-years-old, but with the designated hitter close to a sure thing if not permanently then at least through 2021, Turner remains a great fit for the Dodgers. If not a perfect one. While there has been some slowing in his defense, he can still play third base well enough to cover the current 60-game season and a well-paced third-base-with-a-little-second-and-first-but-mostly-DHing, 2021 and 2022 season makes sense all the way around.
While I don't know that Turner would accept a two-year deal, I imagine that he would if the price is right. Baseball-Reference lists L.A.'s payroll commitments for 2021 and 2022 at $147.1 million and $71.4 million, respectively. Sportrac's figures are similar, at $143,864,000 for next year and $76,500,000 for 2022. The competitive balance tax threshold for 2021 is $210 million, with 2022 and beyond subject to negotiation next year.
The Dodgers can easily afford to re-sign a player of Turner's importance to a two-year deal for somewhere between $30 million and $40 million. One is reasonable, the other generous. Fine, both are generous. A down-the-middle two-year $35 million contract, which would be a raise from $16 mil to $17.5 mil in average annual value (AAV), should just about do it. And that's my suggestion. Two years at $35 mil for one Justin Turner, the Dodgers all-bun-in-name captain and team cornerstone.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.