Dodgers still have 40-man roster issue ahead of Justin Turner decision

Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Dodgers would theoretically like to welcome Justin Turner back soon in a vacuum.

Considering Spring Training is very nearly upon us — the rest of the roster reports this very week — they should probably get the most obvious return in the recent history of free agency completed before the weekend is over.

Especially after signing the polarizing Trevor Bauer and breezing past any and all luxury tax thresholds.

But even after clearing two key relievers off the back end of their 40-man roster on Friday, the team still doesn’t technically have a vacancy available.

Lefty Adam Kolarek and righty Dylan Floro — who you may remember fondly from sonning Randy Arozarena during key moments of the World Series — are out, sure. Theoretically, that would’ve helped with a 40-man logjam.

But infielder Sheldon Neuse, acquired in the Kolarek deal with the A’s, was swiftly added to Los Angeles’ 40-man, theoretically insuring against Turner’s potential departure.

Certainly using a coveted roster spot at the tail end of the winter on a slugging young player who plays Turner’s position and comes from the Max Muncy Scrap Heap in Oakland isn’t great news for the late return of the Dodgers icon. A top five prospect with the A’s, Los Angeles likely has grand-ish plans for Neuse, a 26-year-old who hit .317 with 27 bombs at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2019; in other words, someone who could end up being a lot more valuable than a lefty specialist in the modern game of baseball.

Great move! Now, can someone please explain to me how this team is getting Turner onto the roster after clogging their 40-man from different, unexpected directions these past few days?

How will the Dodgers fit Justin Turner onto their 40-man roster?

From the looks of it, Los Angeles is still far more likely to pare down their pitcher pool than their group of position players, which is mostly made up of essential starters and top, aging prospects (like Neuse, Zach McKinstry, Matt Beaty, Zach Reks and Luke Raley).

Much like the New York Yankees just did, clearing Ben Heller from the roster as a last resort, the Dodgers seem likely to make all future adjustments simply by cutting loose ends instead of formulating some monstrous move.

In other words, reliever Garrett Cleavinger, good for a 13.50 ERA in just one short appearance in 2020, should be on high alert. There are currently 23 pitchers on the 40-man as Spring Training approaches.

Of course, there’s another simplistic solution where no one will have to be sacrificed — if Tommy Kahnle is placed on the 60-Day IL when camp opens, presuming the team doesn’t expect him back before late summer at the earliest, that’ll clear up the final spot needed.

Even if it’s not for Turner, Cleavinger probably isn’t long for this team — after all, in-season adjustments will need to be made.

For now, though, it could be as simple as a procedural Kahnle move, if the Dodgers and Turner can actually agree on a contract length. The mechanism might be easier to discern than the outcome of the negotiations.