Justin Turner Extension

Turner has truly turned into a Dodger favorite after his 2014 explosion. However he hits FA this summer no matter how many games we play, and getting rid of a cornerstone of 6 NL West winning teams doesn’t sound like a great idea. We say it’s time to extend Turner.

Highlights:

  • His Past
  • His Present
  • The Future and Turner
  • The Numbers
  • The Offer

Career So Far

Turner debuted in 2009 but didn’t have a full season until 2011 with the Mets. He spent 2 more years on the Mets before the Dodgers picked him up for a bench role. The Mets couldn’t wait, so the Dodgers took a bet on the infield help. Turner hopped on the baseball analytics train with a new swing for launch angle and turned into a true all around player.

He became a Dodger in 2014 and had a slash line of .340/.404/.493 in over 300 PAs. In 2016 he officially became a starter and hit a career high 27 HRs and 90 RBI. Still his best year came during 2017 where Turner hit .322/.415/.530. He was an All Star, The Heart and Hustle Award recipient, and won Co-NLCS MVP after his crucial effort to lift the Dodgers to their first WS appearance since 1988.

In fact, he’s been dynamite in the postseason in general. He has a career slash line of .310/.411/.520. He’s never hit below .286 in a single postseason, minus the 2 ABs he whiffed in 2014.

He is still a top 20 batter in the league and isn’t afraid of anyone. He’s been top 15 in the NL in HBP for 5 years straight. He has been worth 3.0+ WAR in every season he’s legitimately played. He’ll likely sign one more contract after he becomes a FA at the end of this year.

2019 Year

He was top 35 in batting average. He was top 15% in all expected slash line categories. He was in the 84th percentile in OAA. He matched his career high of 27 HRs in a season and barely hit any in the first half. The Captain has still got it and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down yet.

He was incredibly difficult to pitch to because he lacked a weak spot in the zone. Turner is a good contact machine.

His batting profile from 2019 compared to players like Mookie Betts, Jorge Polanco, Charlie Blackmon, and Realmuto. Or more importantly it compared him to fellow 3B stars from 2019 in Machado, Arenado, Eduardo Escobar, and Gio Urshela.

2020 And Beyond For Turner

Help at 3B is a couple years away, but we have reason to believe we have a prospect who could be worth the wait in, Dodger’s 2019 1st round pick, Kody Hoese. And if not Hoese, we have other, promising middle infielders on the way that could allow Seager to settle in at 3B.

But the MLB is changing and the NL DH has been rumored to arrive for years. If baseball is played in 2020 it’s almost certain a universal DH will be used. Roster’s were already expanded to 26 players for the 2020 season. This could be directly related to the plan of a universal DH.

The reason this is important, is because Turner could have a very long and successful career as a DH from here. Even now he was graded the best hit tool on the Dodgers current lineup.

We all saw Nelson Cruz’s value at 39 years old. Turner is projected to decline in value, but mostly because he’s projected less ABs. He already has some health issues that pretty much guarantee he can’t play 3B much longer, but what if we only need him to do it part time next year?

A well rested Turner who get’s to focus on purely batting may be even more dangerous than any Turner we’ve seen. He would be able to be in the lineup everyday. His clubhouse presence and postseason experience stay in the Dodger’s clubhouse.

The Offer

Realisitically we’re willing to bet on Turner producing until he’s about 40 so we’ll offer him a 4 year deal possibly with a cheap option for a 5th year. He’s convinced Jansen to take a pay cut for the team so would likely take a modest but fair extension if it was offered to him.

We’re not paying him as a 3B either. We need to compare him to other older DHs. Neklson Cruz was being paid $14.3MM, Encarnacion was getting paid $12MM. And arguably every other DH getting paid more than $20MM is overpaid. So the average salary would need to be somewhere in there. Turner was also getting paid a backloaded deal, which is really biting him in the ass due to covid cuts, worth $16MM on average.

This means we can lower the range to about $8MM (probably the lowest we could go w/o being overly offensive) to $16MM a year.

We believe the price of expected WAR for a veteran position player should be roughly $6-7MM. And although he produced 3.4 WAR last year he is declining and would miss out on defensive value as a DH.

Based on his projections and an assumption of slight decline in the 2023-24 season we believe Turner is expected to produce about 1.6 WAR on average the next 4 years. At the $6MM/WAR cost this comes out to 4 years for $38.4MM, or $9.6MM/yr.

Because it’s Turner we say pay the premium considering the estimates are very conservative and based purely on his value as a 3B.

So we say 4 years and $44 million for the Captain to stay in LA blue. Possibly with a 5th year clubhouse option for $6MM. Which could technically come out to 5 years for $50MM.

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