Though the Los Angeles Dodgers can afford just about anybody and everybody, adding a Trea Turner contract extension to the books would be fairly hefty alongside the big Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman deals. Not to mention, if the Dodgers are looking to make it happen, Julio Urías and Walker Buehler will need to be paid soon.
There’s good news, though. A ton of money is coming off the books once November arrives, meaning there will be bandwidth to get a ~$200 million deal for Turner done. But … there’s also bad news.
Outside of Turner, there will be a ton of other needs the Dodgers will have to address, including the rotation (Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney are free agents) and bullpen (Craig Kimbrel, Daniel Hudson, David Price and other lesser pieces will hit the open market). Pitching is expensive.
Right now, the Dodgers have $89.7 million GUARANTEED on the 2023 payroll. That number balloons to $126 million with arbitration-eligible players. Then that number jumps up to $210 million if various contract options are exercised.
Sadly, if the Dodgers want to avoid that third fiscal tier, they’re going to have to make some tough decisions on the arbitration/contract option front. The cost of Turner plus elite bullpen arms and viable starting rotation targets will undoubtedly shoot the Dodgers close to the $300 million range if everyone stays. It could happen, but if it doesn’t …
The Dodgers might have to make these three tough roster choice to keep Trea Turner
3. Non-Tender Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger will be entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility when the offseason arrives. He’s made about $17 million in each of the past two seasons, but only got a $900K raise from 2021 to 2022 because of his historically bad 2021 campaign. The two sides avoided arbitration with a deal right before the lockout.
This season, Bellinger hasn’t been nearly as big of a liability … but he’s not exactly worth ~$20 million, which will probably be his price tag for the 2023 season. Do the Dodgers want to pay that price for elite center field defense when they can pay a fraction of that for someone who will be just as ineffective with the bat?
Bellinger’s been worth, as of Friday, a 0.3 fWAR over the last two seasons, which far from equates to ~$34 million in value. This year, Belli is hitting .210/.267/.402 with 54 runs scored, 15 homers, 49 RBI and 11 stolen bases across 102 games while effortlessly covering a ton of ground in center field. Pretty solid! But far from worth the price tag.
Who knows, the Dodgers might still view him as a key contributor even though the numbers aren’t exactly there. But when you can spend $20 million AAV on an elite starting pitcher instead, that kind of changes the equation.