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Dodgers Offseason: Should L.A. Pick Up Justin Turner’s 2023 Option?

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.

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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19 Comments

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  1. Yes, they should definitely bring him back as he really is a lifelong Dodger now. If it turns out his hitting has aged out, they could make him the hitting coach!

    • My first Dodger game was at Ebbets Field in 1955. Justin Turner is the only current player with the knowledge, experience, leadership and presence that so clearly represents the Dodger Tradition. The bat speed is only a part of the magic sauce. He’s a clubhouse and community icon, Keep him, pay him and make a long term plan for his involvement in the organization.

    • I don’t think the Dodgers are going to spend $16 million on a hitting coach. Especially one who hasn’t hit his weight the last two postseasons

  2. If he wants to be Tio in limited action maybe, but its time to move forward. Considering what’s coming off the books, So Cal native Arenado is a free agent. With him and Trea on the left side, we will be set middle of the order with of course the addition of Judge. Pitching is set. Forget about hiring a strategist, there’s your strategy.

  3. Hate to say it, but, NO. $16M is too much for what JT brings to the dance. His time has come and gone. Move on. They also need to non tender Bellinger. Wish we could unload KT3.

  4. That’s a tough one. JT has almost reached Kershaw status with relationship to the Dodgers and fans. Bu this is 2 years in a row his bat has been AWOL in the playoffs. He also looked like at end of regular season he was having trouble catching up to the fastball. Maybe they can decline their option and work out a deal in FA to bring him back at cheaper cost? It wouldn’t be right to see JT in another uniform

    • I agree, JT would not only look bad in another team’s jersey, but it would be a big morale letdown for his teammates. Other than JT, who does this team have for leadership right now. Sure as “H” it is not the manager. Team should seriously consider trading Belli and Judge is not coming to LA. Bring up Outman and sign deGrom. Signing JT to a reduced contract for the next two years, should bring him into retirement. He can DH and spell Arenado if they choose to take that patch. But whatever they do, JT should be kept around.

  5. Turner has been a great Dodger but so were Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, etc, you have to move on that roster spot is too valuable to have just a DH and his post season numbers this year prove it is time to move on. I would love to see him elevated to a coach! Imagine if Machado was vacuuming up ground balls at 3rd base how much better we would be!!

  6. Yes they should bring back JT. ALSO, the Dodgers shocking loss to the Padres was in the NLDS not the NLCS. 😉

  7. I’m not sure if it’s wise to bring JT back, but I sure hope they do. He’s made huge contributions over the years, community too IIRC. He seems like a really good guy, who has been a major contributor for years. Yes he had a so so season, but fair overall and a better finish, and remember, this was the lockout year.

    I’ll be glad if they bring him back, I’ll understand if they don’t. Business turns tough when it’s 10s of millions at stake.

  8. No, time to change direction for more dynamic and athletic player to lead the Dodgers to be more exciting. JT is a good guy and has been clutch in the past, but Father Time has taken it’s toll. He has been slow and lethargic, where he has not taken care of his body as he aged w/ the constant soft tissue injuries,(e.g.,look at Lebron and Brady’s durability). JT is overpaid for being a part time player these past few yrs. A veteran leader leads by example w/ performance and encourages other players on the team w/ information. Most of the time, I see him only staying to himself on the IPad. He is late w/ high fastballs and fooled on low sliders because of his big leg kick and long looping swing which should not be taught (same as CT3). His fielding has regressed dramatically and his arm has become weak and inaccurate causing errors to prolong innings. Either give a young MLB-ready talent to step in or go get a Arenado type to fill that valuable spot on the roster. In the big show, you must show up or you’re gone. Sorry.

  9. I love JT and he’s been a leader on the team and he and his wife do a lot for the community. But don’t bring him back for $16 million. They have options at third with Muncy, Rios or Vargas to start at third. I could see declining the option and bringing him back off the bench. And I would definitely bring him back in the organization after his playing days are through. But after seeing his at bats at the beginning and end of the season, it’s time to move on.

  10. As long as it doesn’t preclude us from possibly signing Nolan Arrenado (a lifelong Dodger fan who can opt out in St Louis) to actually play 3rd and/or trading for Otani, I say bring him back … He has more value to LA than to any other club

  11. JT should come back he is a great leader in the club house and one of the reasons the Dodgers did so well, although his post season was disappointing he is still a leader.

  12. Arenado is 31. Muncy can play 3rd, 2nd and DH. JT has been amazing, but let’s be real here, these guys get paid insane money to perform in the future not the past. Keep JT in the organization, but as far as being an everyday player, let’s just say he’s had a great career in blue.

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