The Los Angeles Dodgers could be without Justin Turner for the first time in a decade after declining his club option for the 2023 season, leading many to believe that the 38-year-old’s tenure with the team is coming to an end.
Turner struggled mightily in the first half of the season in 2022 but put together a hot second half to raise his numbers to a respectable level. But at his price, considering his age and likely regression, it made sense for the Dodgers to turn the page and either get cheaper or find a right-handed replacement.
The chances of Turner returning may have increased on Monday, though, as one of the potential replacements for him has found a new home. Even worse, that new home is the hated Houston Astros.
Per reports, the Astros have signed Abreu to a three-year deal worth $60 million, which will take the slugger through his age-38 season. In the end, the Dodgers probably weren’t paying that price anyway, so … whatever.
The Dodgers have lost out on potential Justin Turner replacement, Jose Abreu
While Abreu isn’t a third baseman, his right-handed bat would have been a great addition to this Dodgers lineup. He could have slotted in as the DH, allowing Max Muncy and Michael Busch (who should be on the 2023 Opening Day roster) to split time at third base.
The 2020 American League MVP might be past his prime and entering the later stages of his career, but he still offers a lot of value to the Astros’ lineup that would’ve been felt in Los Angeles. Abreu is still elite against left-handed pitching, posting an .858 OPS against them last season.
The numbers under the hood were great for Abreu last season as well. He ranked in the top 7% of the league in average exit velocity and the top 3% of the league in hard-hit rate. He’s also extremely durable, missing just 18 total games over the last four seasons.
Instead of being a perfect middle-of-the-order bat in Los Angeles, Abreu is going to serve as a replacement (and improvement) for Yuli Gurriel in Houston. The Astros offense just undoubtedly got better, especially with Abreu getting protected in a stacked lineup.
Abreu wasn’t the only option for the Dodgers, but he might’ve been the best one. At the very least, Dodgers fans can celebrate the fact that Abreu didn’t sign with the San Diego Padres, as they were connected to the former MVP early on in free agency.
But hey, maybe this will pave the way for J.D. Martinez to reunite with his former hitting coach in Los Angeles.