Could Justin Turner Be A Free Agent Target? Why Not?
By Scott Andes
Now that the Dodgers have locked up Clayton Kershaw they can turn their attention to the next order of business, rebuilding the bench. This may not look like a glamorous job, but it’s still important. The bench can be especially vital for a National League team. The Dodgers are going to not only need defensive versatility, but power and speed from their bench.
The Dodgers have had bad reputations over the years of building lousy benches full of incompetent bums. For example, the Dodgers have had numerous useless Bums loitering on past benches. Past Bums include Auto Out Garret Anderson, Number one Bum Juan Castro, and F.P. Santangelo have stunk up previous Dodger benches.
This time around may be even worse. The Dodgers lost two of their utility guys (Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker) to free agency, and another (Michael Young), may retire. The Dodgers need another utility guy, namely another utility infielder. Options are limited however, and the free agent pool is slim pickens.
New York Mets third baseman Justin Turner (2) slides into home plate while scoring before a tag by Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes (10) in the sixth inning at Progressive Field.-David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
I mean hey if you like Paul Janish, and or Elliot Johnson then the remaining free agents may be your choosing. Perhaps the Dodgers could turn to internal options like Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers, and lord help us all Miguel Rojas, who GM Ned Colletti seems to be in love with.
Unfortunately all of those choices suck majorly. There is one player on the free agent market who may be worth looking at though. I’m talking about infielder Justin Turner. The 29-year-old free agent infielder was with the Mets last season and has been with the Mets since 2010. Sure he won’t bring power, speed or particularly great defense, but he’s not an auto out and between him, Gordon, Sellers, Rojas, and Young, he’s the lesser of evils. (He was non-tendered by the Mets earlier this offseason making him a free agent)
Turner a right handed hitter, was drafted out of Fullerton University by the Reds in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. In December of 2008 he was actually traded along with two other minor leaguers to Baltimore for former Dodger catcher and hitless wonder Ramon Hernandez. Yes he was really traded for Hernandez.
But don’t let that deter you from giving him a look. Turner was claimed off of waivers by the Mets in 2010, and doesn’t look like a terrible possibility.
Turner has been decent with the bat. He’s not great but you know what they say, beggars can’t be choosers, and in this regard we’re beggars. Turner batted .260 in his first full season in 2011, with a .334 OBP, and four home runs, 51 runs driven in while playing in 117 games. That season he drew just 39 walks though, and posted a .690 OPS.
Turner? Might as well-Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
In 2012, Turner played in 94 games, and had 185 plate appearances. He posted a triple slash line of .269/.319/.392, while drawing only nine walks. Turner hit two home runs that season and drove in 19 runs. Last season Turner played in 86 games and had 214 plate appearances. Turner posted a slash line of .280/.319/.385 with two home runs and 19 runs knocked in during 2013 with the Mets. Over his career, Turner is a .260 hitter, with a .323 OBP. Turner has put up an OPS + the last three seasons of 94, 97, and 100 last season respectively. Turner is basically a league average hitter who is below average at getting on base.
Defensively Turner can play second and third, and has split time between those positions for the Mets over the last three seasons. Despite committing only four errors over the last two seasons, Turner ranks poorly in most of the defensive metrics. Defensive runs saved has him at a career -18 at second base, and -1 at third base. Although he wasn’t that bad in 2013, posting up a -2 at both second and third base positions. Turner can also play some shortstop and first base. The right hander has 30 games under his belt at shortstop and 26 at first base.
Hey it’s not a sexy option, but he’s still probably a million times better than Miguel Rojas. Turner made just above the minimum salary in 2013 and would come incredibly cheap. He can’t possibly be any worse than Young or Rojas. I don’t see any harm in extending him an invite to spring training at the least. Do you?