Dodgers’ stance on Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner doesn’t bode well for 2023 status
The Los Angeles Dodgers avoided having far too many offseason questions to answer when they extended a number of players — Max Muncy, Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson and Austin Barnes — during the 2022 season.
But they couldn’t bury all of the speculation/controversy. What’s going to happen with Clayton Kershaw? Perhaps that situation was unavoidable, though. Kershaw wants to take things year by year, since he’s now toward the end of his playing days.
What about Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, though? Belli is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, but it’s hard to believe the Dodgers are going to pay close to $20 million to hold onto him for one more season after yet another disappointing offensive season (150 strikeouts, .654 OPS, 78 OPS+).
Turner, on the other hand, had a blistering finish to 2022 after a huge second half and has a $16 million club option (with a $2 million buyout) for 2023. But top prospect Miguel Vargas, who made the NLDS roster, is waiting in the wings, and the Dodgers might be ready to begin a new era.
No need to quote us, though. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman alluded to the possibility himself with these two players.
Are the Dodgers really about to move on from Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner?
Friedman said the Dodgers “didn’t expect to be addressing those things so early in the offseason,” but then what’s the explanation for extending all the other aforementioned players that had contract questions surrounding them?
There’s been ample reason to believe Bellinger and Turner might not be in the long-term plans. Bellinger’s been underperforming for three years now (and was one of the worst players in baseball last year). After he was benched in NLDS Games 3 and 4, it all but officially shut the door. At least it felt that way.
Turner, though a Dodgers legend, is entering his age-38 season and might be best suited as a full-time DH at this point in his career. The presence of Vargas also doesn’t help his case for a return, especially with a $16 million price tag attached.
Friedman’s comments on the matter — and his actions with taking care of other players months ago — speak for themselves.
Throw in the Aaron Judge rumors, and the Dodgers subtracting Bellinger’s ~$20 million and Turner’s $14 million to upgrade in the outfield and insert Vargas at third base for under $1 million, and it’s evident the front office might be searching for bigger and better scenarios this offseason.