Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is the second-longest tenured player on the team, joining the organization prior to the 2014 season in time for their second of ten straight postseason appearances.
This year, for the third time in his tenure, he’s heading into the postseason not knowing if it will be his last. He reached free agency after 2016 and 2020, and each time, he re-signed with Los Angeles, the team he grew up rooting for in Southern California.
This year, things are a little different, as the decision will be more out of his hands than usual. The Dodgers hold a $16 million team option for 2023, so if they want him back at that price, he’ll be back. There’s the possibility, though, that the team could decline the option, allowing him to sign elsewhere or back with L.A. at a reduced cost.
Turner was asked on Tuesday if he’s spent much time thinking about the possibility that this could be his last postseason run with the Dodgers.
“No, that’s a long ways away. There’s one thing in mind, and that’s winning a baseball game tonight. Whatever happens after that, it will all work itself out. That’s not important right now.”
It’s hard to picture Turner playing anywhere else, considering how much he’s meant to the franchise and the city of Los Angeles. Manager Dave Roberts has said in the past, with at least some degree of earnestness, that he hopes JT will succeed him as manager of the team, and keeping him in the organization as either a player or a coach seems like a necessary step for that.
The question will be whether Turner and the organization see eye to eye on his future as a player. JT has played less third base this year than in the past, spending a lot of the season as the designated hitter. That split figures to widen if he returns next year, and it would presumably eventually morph into a part-time role. But considering how Turner played the last few months of this season, he might still have a few years left as a productive hitter.
Either way, as JT says, those are discussions for another day. For now, the focus is winning the World Series.
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