Dodgers: Why Justin Turner Could Actually Leave Los Angeles

Justin Turner’s free agency looms large over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Turner’s well documented career resurgence in Los Angeles culminated in a championship for the ages this season. The only blemish of course was Turner’s controversial decision to return to the field to celebrate with his teammates after being notified, in game, that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Following a full investigation by MLB, Turner will not be suspended nor fined. He’ll be available to play for the Dodgers, or any team, come Opening Day 2021.

Part of Turner’s notoriety lies in his career blossoming much later than most. He didn’t find success until his age 30 season. For many athletes, 30 is the beginning of the end. For JT, 30 was a launch pad that catapulted him to stardom.

For that very reason, Turner has only had one opportunity to maximize his value on the free agent market. Most baseball players of his stature sign two or three sizable contracts in their careers. He has signed but one – $64M over four years in 2016. This writer will happily trade him bank accounts, but amongst his age group of All-Star caliber third baseman over 30, he’s a little short in the wallet.

Career Earnings 

  • Josh Donaldson (Age 34) $164.3M
  • Evan Longoria (35) $139.2M
  • Pablo Sandoval (34) $113.6M
  • Kyle Seager (33) $101.5M
  • Justin Turner (35) $79.6M

Career earnings information from Baseball-Reference.com

It’s easy to get lost in the romanticism of Justin Turner’s Dodger career, but there’s a very real possibility that team president Andrew Friedman doesn’t offer more than a two-year deal above market value. You don’t win Executive of the Year for re-signing 35-year-old third baseman to bloated four-year contracts.

In a situation with much uncertainty, this is absolutely Turner’s last chance to get paid.

Fans will bemoan the Guggenheim group for not shelling out for their beloved fire headed star, but this is a business after all. Nobody should fault JT for signing elsewhere for more money than the Dodgers offer. Conversely, nobody should fault the Dodgers for choosing not to overpay an oft-injured corner infielder entering his age 36 season.

This won’t snowball into a Fox ownership-Piazza level feud if the two sides can’t agree. JT was a cornerstone of the Dodgers first title since 1988 (in case you forgot). He’s a legend. Forever part of Dodger lore. 

The much adored LA native will be greeted with open arms at Dodger Stadium, regardless of where his career ends.

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Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of the Dodgers Nation 3 Up, 3 Down Podcast.


  1. If the Dodgers brought Utley back because of his “Clubhouse presence”, and brought Freese back because of his “Clubhouse presence”, why would they not do the same with Turner? He is a leader in the clubhouse, he can still rake, he can still pick it at third, and the Dodgers have never had a more community-minded player that JT. He and Kershaw are the faces of the franchise. I cannot imagine why they wouldn’t make a push to bring him back for at least a two year deal. Even is he ends up in a spot role like Utley and Freese did, his value goes way beyond stats in a box score.

    1. Larry your emotions are getting the best of you.JT has a short window before he retires the cleats and glove. He can easily get a 2 year $20million deal anywhere the Dodgers cannot and will not pay that kind of money when they must solidify the young core Buehler, Seager ,Bellinger and look to pick up another arm in 2 years when Kershaw is in the same boat as JT.

      1. I disagree. I think he can and will get a 2 year deal from the Dodgers at a little north of the 20M you stated. It’s not emotion when you look at his stats and realize he was the 11th ranked 3B in baseball in 2020 even with his diminished defensive skills – which were not evident during playoffs – and is projected to perform at the same level next year.
        JT already took a team friendly deal when he was at the top of his game so there’s no reason to think he won’t do the same now. 10M – 12M a year for his offense isn’t out of line and fits the team’s payroll better than any replacement. And 100M career earnings won’t exactly be poverty.

      2. I agree with everything you said Eric.
        Now if the NL has a DH next year, this would take a somewhat different outlook.
        But that’s not looking probable. I’d suggest the brass offer Justin 2 years in the neighbourhood of 25 million(total of course). If Justin 3/4 years elsewhere, I hope he takes it. He’s had a great ride with the Dodgers and has his ring now.
        Time to pad the nest egg if he gets the opportunity for a better/longer deal.

    2. “If the Dodgers brought Utley back because of his “Clubhouse presence”, and brought Freese back because of his “Clubhouse presence”, why would they not do the same with Turner?”

      Unles you’ve been in the clubhouse, you have no realistic gage on each man’s “Clubhouse presence”. Your fan mind is assuming they are all the same…

  2. When Dodgers gave Utley and Freese their “clubhouse presence” contracts, they were in their final year(s) of productivity where they were already part-time players. Turner is still a top-flight offensive player. Dodgers should offer him a fair 2-year contract, but if he goes somewhere else for more $$$, best wishes to him.

  3. Agree with Jeff not to overpay Turner. Utley and Freese didn’t get that kind of money. Of course, they were not worth anything close to what Turner is worth. Much more important to sign Seager, Bellinger, Buehler and Urias long term.

  4. Keep in mind that JT WANTS to stay here if possible and very well could get a mutual friendly 2 year deal from Dodgersi would think after all he’s done here Dodgers will do whatever is necessary to bring him back within reason. I don’t see Turner asking for the ‘moon here.

  5. With deteriorating defense I would say he should leave and get a 4 year deal somewhere else. The dodgers would automatically be better by getting rid of hanger ons who don’t produce like Hernandez and Pederson. JT sadly just can’t play the position well enough anymore.

      1. only shows up in October. ONLY ?

        That’s what’s been missing for >30 years. You can keep the countless, meaningless West tiles…

    1. dodgers would not have even been in the world series without JT tag and double play against the braves in game 7…. he’s been our only consistent player in postseason past 5 years. enough said?? Bring back JT!! i guess i didn’t see that deteriorating offense?? GO BLUE!!

  6. Dont overpay Turner but a longer term (3-4yr) at a 5mil per year (plus incentives for PA) may work for him. Comes out to the same as a 2/$20mil (base). Who knows, in the next year or 2 the DH may very well be in the NL for good and Turner could be the DH and fulfill the PA incentives. And he can transition into a coach advisory role like Utley did. I think JT loves LA too much to not consider a deal like this and the chance to defend the title. I love JT but I dont think he is a starter anymore, and needs more rest.

  7. Stop f*cking around and give JT a 2 or 3 year contract. The guy has hit over 300 in 3 of his last 4 seasons. Look at the reality of performance. JT shows no signs of declining offensively with age. Defensively he played much better last season, especially in the postseason . Let him finish a wonderful career with Dodgers and help us win a couple more championships.

  8. “only blemish of course was Turner’s controversial decision ”

    You media girls crack me up.

  9. Back in the 80’s I believe it was Ron Oester, the longtime second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds who, instead of entering free agency, took less money to stay with the organization he loved. That’s an attitude that no longer exists. Loyalty goes only so far as a paycheck. Truly sad. I wonder what Koufax thinks when in 1965 ish he and Drysdale went on strike finally settling for 125k and 100k respectively. On one hand I don’t blame them but on the other hand “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

  10. There is absolutely no question, JT is a true blue Dodger.. However, I felt after acquiring Betts, clubhouse politics was going in another direction.. Not that there wasn’t enormous respect among the players, but JT was older and more prone to injury.. In the business of baseball this brings two dominating factors, one – have him agree to a short term below market value money contract, and two – let the market have him..

  11. Turner is good but one thing no one mentions. He will be 36 and he always gets hurt. Not a good combination. They have gotten his best years out of him. It’s time to move on. So many younger good replacements on the market.

  12. All I know is I like him. I truly hope we can figure out a way to keep him in Dodger blue but what I want most is what is best for JT. The outcome may rest on whether or not the National League adopts the DH rule. I just hope we keep him. When the chips are down and we are behind in the 9th with RISP, there is no one I would rather see walk into that batter’s box. Whichever way it goes he will always be my hero.

  13. At the end of the day it is a business. Many comments I have read are leading with their hearts, but it is a business. Many of us that work want a raise. And even if we get the raise, and a job comes up offering more money for the same job at a different company, we most likely will take our talents to the new company. It is a business for both sides. The Dodgers and Turner. It is not a job of loyalty, it is a job for money. Turner has played great, and for his great play has gotten paid great. It will all be up to him in the end.

  14. 2 years max, $25M total.That gives Rios and Hoese time to further develop. If NL has DH (which they should) you might go to $30M for two years of Turner.

  15. Admittedly, my ” emotions get the best of (me)” when I think of JT. I absolutely love what he seems to project ( like the rest of you we are not in the clubhouse and do not have privy to what really goes on) in the way of his Dodgers commitment, player image and leadership…and let’s not forget his community involvement. Its really easy to like this guy.

    With that being, Baseball is not all about feelings, it is a business (a big business.) Although I would like to see Turner stay in Dodgers’ blue, this is one of the rare times when I really do not have a strong opinion about what should happen. If he stays, he has shown that he can still play well in his current position (even for a short period of time which should be reflected in whatever contract.) If he is not staying, then we have some serious decisions to make about replacing him by cultivating someone we already have (and have used) or maybe bring in a big name from elsewhere…Either way, the Dodgers have shown that we will be just fine.

  16. They should offer JT a 3 year deal with a club option for the third year. They don’t want to be losing RH bats right now.

  17. JT has been good for the Dodgers in multiple years but time has a way of telling you it’s over
    If Arenado can be had it is the much better move for the next 5-6 years and it sets up agreement with Seager to be a lifetime Dodger at SS where he obviously prefers to be

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