The Los Angeles Dodgers could be experiencing a changing of the guard in the leadership department this offseason, and not in the way the fan base was hoping (sorry, but Dave Roberts will still be here communicating the front office’s decisions next season).
Whether it’s this offseason or next, both Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw are rapidly approaching the end of their Dodgers careers. Kershaw seems inclined to keep playing in 2023, but the fact that the question’s being asked indicates the Dodgers need a contingency plan.
As for Turner? The contract decision on his future lies with the Dodgers. In order to sway him away from the Brewers after the 2020 season, LA included a team option for 2023 in his two-year, $34 million deal. That hefty option clocks in at $16 million, and without being too hasty, it feels unlikely that the Dodgers opt in for a 38-year-old Turner.
His time in Los Angeles might not be over. The two could always agree on a lesser salary for 2023, or align on a two-year pact to take him through the end of his career. Odds are the team won’t be paying out the option in full, though.
Turner’s still waiting to hear from the Dodgers, as he informed the media scrum at Monday’s reception for the Roberto Clemente Award, which he received for his humanitarian service. When prompted with a suggestion for a new team he could join — his former club, the now-hyper-rich Mets — he didn’t exactly bristle.
Dodgers’ Justin Turner considering joining Mets?
While an elaboration on “didn’t hate the idea” would be nice, New York collected players similar to Turner last offseason — players who make good contact, have a mastery on the fundamentals, and won’t shy away from “runners on the corners, one out” in a critical playoff game.
Though he’s about to turn 38, Turner strangely closed 2022 with one of the best halves of his career; though his OPS finished at .788, it had risen from .673 at the end of June to .802 by mid-September.
While the third baseman was once a Met (unceremoniously cut an offseason prior to heading west), he’ll always be a Dodger. It’s safe to say that the reunion most fans would prefer to see would be happening in the Hollywood Hills rather than in Steve Cohen’s enclave.
If Turner leaves, the Dodgers will likely turn to rookie Miguel Vargas and unclog their crowded infield picture a bit. Things won’t be the same, though — especially if LA runs into Turner in the National League playoffs.