Dodgers: Pros and Cons of re-signing Justin Turner next offseason

Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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Justin Turner
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Con: (Let him walk!): The best days are behind him

Justin Turner’s career took off when he joined the Dodgers in 2014. A utility player for the Mets who didn’t show many signs of becoming an everyday player, let alone a middle-of-the-lineup hitter, quickly became a star when he arrived in Los Angeles. He has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Dodgers lineup over the past decade.

But the 35-year-old third baseman probably best days are probably behind him. Over the past three seasons, he has seen his batting average drop from .322 to .312 to .290 last season. His on-base percentage and slugging percentage have followed similar patterns of decline. While he still is a very good hitter, slashing .290/.372/.509 in 2019, along with 27 home runs, which tied a career-high, it’s wishful thinking to believe he can keep that production up for several more seasons into his late thirties.

According to ZiPS, which provides three-year projections on FanGraphs, Turner is expected to see his batting average hover around .275 with 12-15 home runs over the two seasons following his Age-35 campaign. Not terrible, but not the type of production Dodgers fans are used to seeing from Red.

Most concerning is his defense. Using advanced statistics, his ultimate zone rating (UZR) has gone from a positive value in 2016 to a largely negative one last season. While Statcast shows improvement in his fielding last season, his lateral quickness toward third base remains a weakness. As Turner ages, and without a DH position in the National League to hide him, his defense could become a liability at the hot corner.