The first offseason moves in Los Angeles have officially arrived. Most fans probably saw them already, but now it’s important to make sense of everything before the next steps inevitably arrive. Some were obvious, others were difficult.
The most drastic of all concerned third baseman/DH Justin Turner, who had his $16 million team option declined. He’ll receive a $2 million buyout and immediately become a free agent. The decision by the Dodgers wasn’t surprising, but fans were hoping a reunion would be worked out in short order to avoid other teams from getting in on the bidding.
It’s unclear what’s next, but the reported plan is for the Dodgers to bring Turner back at a reduced salary. Will that rub the veteran the wrong way, though? His second-half surge undoubtedly showed his first few months were an outlier and arguably a result of the lag from the MLB lockout.
There are options to make Turner happy. The Dodgers can figure out a way to defer money. Or give him another option for 2024. Some fans might not be optimistic, however, because the communication between the two parties on this topic wasn’t exactly lucid if we’re to make an inference from all the comments since LA’s season ended.
On top of Turner hitting free agency, Trea Turner and Tyler Anderson received the qualifying offers while Clayton Kershaw did not.
What can Dodgers fans make of team’s first transactions of offseason?
While JT’s situation is a bit more cloudy, the others aren’t. Let’s start with Kershaw, who was in the exact same boat last offseason when his extension ran out.
The Dodgers didn’t present the left-hander with the QO last year either out of respect. There’s a timeline for the player to accept or decline (Nov. 15 by 4 p.m. ET), and the Dodgers didn’t want to put that pressure on Kershaw, who was mulling retirement or a change of scenery. Same goes for this time around. He’s a Dodgers legend and has earned that right. He’ll have the luxury of weighing his options this offseason once again. The door is open for whatever scenario he prefers in LA, and he knows that.
As for Trea Turner, this one’s simple: he’ll reject the QO, hit free agency, sign a gigantic contract, and if he leaves LA the Dodgers will get draft pick compensation. Done.
Anderson’s in a different boat, however. He has some thinking to do. He’ll no doubt have teams out there looking to sign him to a multi-year deal, but a $19.65 million salary for one year might be hard to turn down for a guy who’s earned a grand total of $15.4 million since debuting in 2011.
Assuming he doesn’t have a disastrous 2023 campaign should he accept and stay with the Dodgers for one more year, he should be in line for another multi-year payday next offseason. The Dodgers won’t be able to give him the QO again — players can only receive it once.
The Dodgers are interested in retaining all of these players, but it’ll be difficult to do so since all will have teams lining up to make their pitch. Nonetheless, the first order of business is complete. Now we wait and see.