The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to see the writing on the wall for Cody Bellinger at the 2022 Winter Meetings, but when it comes to franchise icon Justin Turner, that writing is a little blurrier. Like, cursive vs. print. Harder to discern.
After being the consistent highest-spender in the game for nearly a decade, the Dodgers feel confident enough in their current core to take a step back this offseason (and, even if they didn’t, it seems Steve Cohen probably would’ve lapped them). Whether they’d like to acknowledge it or not, though, things have changed.
Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are locked up long-term, but nobody else is. Max Muncy and Chris Taylor haven’t been themselves for quite a bit. Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías will be fronting the rotation for one more year, but then what?
The farm is fertile, but at the moment, only the San Diego Padres are showing a relentless dedication to controlling the NL West through rampant spending; they even tried to lure Trea Turner to Petco Park, outbidding the Phillies (and getting spurned at the altar).
That leaves the Dodgers with very few long-term (and short-term!) payroll commitments, and after non-tendering Bellinger, their current cash payroll sits at $120,000,000, per Spotrac. Still, despite all the wiggle room, bringing Justin Turner back clearly isn’t a priority — for either party, until the offseason sorts itself out further.
While Bellinger has “multiple” options on the table right now, Turner seems complacent (being 38 will do that to you), and is willing to wait to see how high the Dodgers climb towards the luxury tax threshold in his absence.
Justin Turner-Marlins rumors could affect Dodgers’ pursuit?
In the meantime, the Miami Marlins appear interested in Turner’s services, a step down from his caliber of suitors in recent years.
Even in a down year, Turner rebounded to post 2.0 WAR and become one of the game’s hottest hitters in the second half, posting an .889 OPS and highlighted by a .400 average and 1.030 OPS in July. MLB Trade Rumors has him pegged for a one-year, $14 million contract in 2023 after the Dodgers cut bait on a $16 million option.
That figure could make sense in LA, unless the Dodgers feel silly waiting until the end of the offseason just to have saved $2 million bucks on a popular face of the franchise.
Andrew Friedman seems primed to move on, much the same way he did with Bellinger, in order to pave a path for James Outman, Miguel Vargas, Gavin Lux, and the next generation. But both sides will likely stay engaged until the offseason’s over. You can’t put a price on good mentorship, after all.