Fresh off signing Trevor Bauer to a record-breaking contract, the Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t done yet. They’re now popping up in some trade rumors, which has to excite fans since it’s pretty much an annual tradition at this point that Andrew Friedman swings some sort of significant deal.
At the moment, the Dodgers have a hole at third base with Justin Turner still hanging out in free agency, and the latest buzz suggests the front office could be looking toward making an infield addition to … prepare for Turner to not be with the team in 2021.
Per MLB insider Craig Mish, the Dodgers have called up the Miami Marlins to ask about slugging first baseman Garrett Cooper, who seems to be emerging onto the scene these last two years. Why would this have anything to do with Turner? Because LA can acquire Cooper, put him at first base, and move Max Muncy back over to third.
Muncy has played some sort of combination of first, second and third since coming to Los Angeles three years ago, and while third isn’t his best defensive position (he’s got 19 errors there in 101 career games), maybe they put him there on a part-time basis with Edwin Rios and see how that goes. There’s also been chatter about potentially moving Corey Seager to third, though we’re not buying that.
Here’s the reality of it all: Turner hasn’t played in more than 135 games in a single season since 2016. In fact, since 2017, he’s played in 410 out of a possible 546 games. The Dodgers have made this work with Muncy in some capacity for the last three years, so they probably believe that won’t change in 2021. This isn’t the best plan, but it’s not the end of the world.
Given they blew past the luxury tax threshold to add Bauer, giving Turner a multi-year, high AAV deal will further escalate their already hefty tax bill. Acquiring Cooper, who is making $1.8 million this year and is under club control for the next three seasons, would give them a low-cost acquisition and another power bat in their lineup.
Perhaps the Dodgers’ philosophy is sacrificing a bit of defense in the name of assembling one of the best rotations the sport has ever seen. After all? How many botched grounders at third could cost really them a chance at another World Series?