For the second year in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in an uncomfortable situation with their starting shortstop.
In 2021, it was Corey Seager who reportedly rejected a $300+ million contract in spring training in favor of hitting the open market that November. Now, it’s Trea Turner, who was never offered an extension from the Dodgers, but is likely more than happy to see what other teams are willing to offer him once he’s a free agent after 2022.
At this point, Dodgers fans better start looking at replacement options if we’re to believe the latest reports/rumors, because it’s hard to envision the front office going the extra mile for Turner if they weren’t willing to do so for Seager.
FanSided’s Robert Murray is predicting that Turner lands a higher AAV than Seager’s $32.5 million but on a deal shorter than 10 years (which isn’t surprising, because Turner will be entering his age-30 season, whereas Seager is currently in the midst of his age-28 season).
Then again, the Dodgers could afford Turner’s potential demands if they’re to clean house. With contract options for Max Muncy and Justin Turner, a likely non-tender on the way for Cody Bellinger, and Trevor Bauer’s money hopefully going away, LA might have under $100 million committed to the 2023 payroll.
Right now, they have $87.7 million of guaranteed money on the books, but that number could balloon to $198 million should they exercise all contract options and pay all arbitration-eligible players.
Can the Dodgers afford rumored Trea Turner contract prediction?
The price is unlikely to move on Turner, either, given he’s among the top All-Star vote getters and has been one of the Dodgers’ most valuable players in 2022. He has the most hits and stolen bases on the team.
Additionally, the historic free agent shortstop market last year has both created a great demand and an all-time high in value for those atop the game at the position. Turner is arguably better than every single one of the players (Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Javier Baez) that signed some of the largest deals ever.
With Gavin Lux likely a viable in-house candidate to step in if Turner leaves, the Dodgers could opt to pass on Turner and focus elsewhere in free agency, especially with cheaper shortstop options like Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson also likely being available.
LA has a great need for starting pitching and outfielders. If JT and Muncy are let go, that’ll open up at least one spot in the infield, too. With Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman both signed through the 2027 season at $25 million or more per year, it might be best for the Dodgers to spread the wealth and inject new life into an aging roster that might require a lot of change after this year.