Welcome to 2021 where rumors are doing their best to spark a slow offseason hot stove but transactions remain nowhere to be found. While the Dodgers have been busy in their own way (adding several high reward bullpen arms), the big move fans are looking for still hasn’t happened.
Or even the re-signing of any of LA’s own free agents like Joc Pederson or Justin Turner.
However, the rumors perking up has the fan base faced with a tough scenario. On Saturday, the rumor mill linked DJ LeMahieu to the boys in blue. Conceivably he would take over at third base for the aging Turner who reportedly has chatted with at least one other team in free agency.
So that tough scenario? Do fans go with their heart and bring back JT, or look to the next few seasons with DJLM? We asked on Twitter, albeit mixing in a huge complimentary piece in this hypothetical with free agent closer Liam Hendriks. It turns out it’s a little harder than you’d think.
Wow, this is a tough one tbh
— Cesar M (@CMart_091) January 3, 2021
The fun (and cheating) answers in the comments often asked the question of why not all three? Which is easy when it’s not our money. But with more than 53% of the vote as of this writing, the package involving Turner and Hendriks has a sizeable lead, which is understandable.
You can do a deep dive into the numbers between JT and DJ over the last few seasons and see that Turner is the more potent bat…
DJ: .312/.360/.492, 853 OPS, 122 wRC+
JT: .301/.389/.505, 894 OPS, 142 wRC+
We won't talk about defense lol.
— Brian (@BriRobitaille) January 2, 2021
But he just turned 36 and his surgically repaired knees are not getting any younger. Looking beyond the box score with Turner, however, and you add one huge part of the package he offers.
People forget how important JT’s leadership and intangibles are.
— Justin (@PensiveJustin) January 3, 2021
While Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen have been Dodgers longer than Justin Turner, neither of them carry the voice that JT does in that clubhouse. Still, even LA manager Dave Roberts has said — while not directly pointing to Turner — that he would love to have some change on the club going forward. Which, after more or less half a decade of relatively the same players makes sense.
Looking at the LeMahieu side of things, you see a Gold Glove caliber infielder coming off an absolutely elite season with the New York Yankees. In the shortened 60 game season, DJLM posted an incredible 177 wRC+ while winning the second batting title of his career. Plug that into the Dodger lineup in 2021 and you start to raise a bit of an eyebrow.
I do gotta say, the #Dodgers lineup just hits a little different with a hypothetical addition of DJ LeMahieu.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) January 2, 2021
The argument on offensive production with LeMahieu will always point to his sizeable home/road splits. At home in his career (mostly played at Coors Field in Colorado and Yankee Stadium in New York), the slugger has .873 OPS versus .699 on the road.
Meanwhile, Justin Turner has been virtually the same batter at home and on the road throughout his career (.839 home / .837 road).
Add in Liam Hendricks to this hypothetical poll on Twitter and the majority of fans have seemingly voted correctly. In a bubble (I know, too soon…), Turner is the better option with the bat and the intangibles he brings to the LA locker room. However, the three-year deal he’s rumored to be asking for has him as the starting third baseman through his age 38 season. Less than ideal for a club that’s witnessing the competition around it closing the gap in the National League.
I’m glad I’m not Andrew Friedman.