There are plenty of angles to the story about Justin Turner’s departure from the Dodgers. Over the coming weeks and months, we might get some idea what (if anything) Los Angeles offered Turner and how the process went of them signing JD Martinez and JT immediately replacing him in Boston. We’ll also hopefully get an idea whether there are any hard feelings over the situation.
Turner’s play on the field can probably be replaced; he was mostly a designated hitter at this point, and Martinez is likely to be roughly Turner’s equal offensively. But JT’s presence in the clubhouse and the community will be harder to replace, and that’s likely where the hard decisions came in for L.A. president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes.
According to one Dodgers reporter talking on AM570 this week, the person who will miss Turner the most might not be a player or a fan.
“I think the person that’s going to miss the clubhouse presence the most is Dave Roberts, not any of his teammates. Justin Turner was Dave’s big advocate as far as messaging in the clubhouse and I feel like Dave is going to be the one that needs to find somebody else now.”
Leadership like that is something that’s easy to underestimate, but it’s also something that’s easy to overstate. When Los Angeles traded AJ Ellis in 2016, there were huge concerns about clubhouse leadership and Clayton Kershaw’s feelings (he and Ellis were and are very close). Well, the Dodgers went to the NLCS that year and to the World Series three of four years after that.
Leadership is important, for sure, and Turner is very good at it. But it’s not a skill unique to him, and there are others within the L.A. clubhouse already who can fill that void. Mookie Betts has taken on that role more over the last year or two, and Freddie Freeman’s teammates raved about him all year in 2022. Martinez, for that matter, is well known as a clubhouse leader, although it might take him a little time as the new guy to develop those relationships. And, oh yeah, there’s that Kershaw guy.
JT’s absence will be felt, but it won’t be a backbreaker.
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