Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner just finished his ninth season with Los Angeles, the team he grew up rooting for. Coming to the team in 2014 as a free agent after being non-tendered by the Mets, JT hit the ground running in L.A., batting .340 with an .897 OPS in his first season with the Dodgers.
JT has continued to hit ever since, tallying an .865 OPS and 133 OPS+ in his nine seasons in L.A. He has hit free agency twice since 2014, opting to re-sign with the Dodgers in both 2016 and 2020. His most recent contract was for two years with a team option for a third year, which means JT’s status for 2023 is entirely in the Dodgers’ hands.
L.A. president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes were noncommittal on Tuesday when asked about Turner, saying they haven’t dug into those personnel matters yet. We asked Dodgers fans if they think Los Angeles should pick up Turner’s $16 million option, and early returns show about two-thirds of fans being against the idea.
Should the Dodgers pick up Justin Turner's $16 Million club option?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) October 19, 2022
Turner has been a mainstay of the L.A. lineup and a pillar of the community for nearly a decade, so why are fans against his return? There are probably a few reasons.
First, it’s only been four days since the Dodgers’ shocking loss to the Padres in the NLDS. As one wise source said, we could run a poll on the peanut vendors at Dodger Stadium and fans would likely vote to boot the bums.
Another reason might be Turner’s slow start in 2022. While his season-ending numbers were solid, they were still the worst of his L.A. career thanks to a horrendous start that saw him batting .168 with a .469 OPS five weeks into the season. That likely put a lot of lingering doubts into fans’ heads about JT, mostly related to his age (he’ll turn 38 next month).
But perhaps the biggest (and most recent) concern is JT’s postseason performance. After batting .294 with a .905 OPS in his first 73 postseason games as a Dodger, JT has batted just .116 with a .356 OPS over his last three playoff series (13 games across the 2021 NLDS and NLCS and 2022 NLDS). This year, Turner was hobbled by a shin injury late in the season, which might have contributed to his October struggles.
Really, though, all of this misses a very important point, which is that this is Justin Freaking Turner we’re talking about. JT has been the team leader for years, an icon in the community, a player we can all be proud to root for. And the Dodgers basically print money. Bringing back JT on a $16 million deal is not going to keep the team from addressing any other needs they might have.
Sure, if JT is open to renegotiating and they want to do a two-year, $18 million deal to lower the average annual value while giving him a little extra money, that could be a win/win. But Turner’s value to the team and the franchise far exceeds whatever contract they’re going to give him.
Bring back JT!
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