Roberts hopeful for Turner-LA reunion

January 28th, 2021

The Dodgers went into the offseason making it clear that their focus would be to try to add a right-handed bat in order to balance a left-handed-heavy lineup. Though the search for a righty bat has gone on a bit longer than the Dodgers anticipated, manager Dave Roberts remains hopeful that will be back in Los Angeles in 2021.

“We talked about it at the beginning of the winter: We need a right-handed bat. That’s something we’re still trying to target,” Roberts said on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday. “My wish list certainly is Justin, I’m one of his biggest advocates, and what he does for me -- the ballclub -- speaks for itself. But, again, both sides have to work this thing out to make a deal.”

Turner has been a fixture in the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup the past seven seasons and has established himself as a clutch hitter and a veteran leader. Last season was a down year by Turner’s standards, but the third baseman still finished with a good .860 OPS in 42 games. Since 2017, Turner has hit .307, which ranks fifth among players with at least 1,200 plate appearances.

Both sides have engaged in conversations throughout the winter, and Los Angeles is still considered the favorite to re-sign its star third baseman. The holdup on a deal, however, has been the length of the contract. Turner, 36, reportedly wants a four-year deal in what could be his last free-agent contract, but the Dodgers remain hesitant to go past two years.

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Despite his success at the plate, Turner’s defense has taken a hit. He finished with minus-2 Outs Above Average in 2020, tied for the third lowest by a qualifying third baseman. The concern is that his defense might continue to take a hit as he ages, and there’s still uncertainty surrounding the designated hitter remaining in the National League.

While Turner remains the top target, the Dodgers have looked around this offseason. Los Angeles was linked to potential trades for Kris Bryant and Eugenio Suárez, but nothing materialized past initial discussions. The Dodgers were also in the mix for Marcus Semien, but he is reportedly heading to the Blue Jays on a one-year, $18 million deal.

Returning to the Dodgers is also Turner’s preference, according to a source, but he has received interest from other teams. The Blue Jays showed interest before reaching a deal with Semien, and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that the Brewers have reached out to Turner.

If the Dodgers are unable to bring Turner back, they still will look to add a right-handed bat. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a third baseman. The Dodgers remain high on , who could slot in at third base, though that would add another left-handed bat to the lineup.

“I do love the way we have Edwin Ríos, who has kind of come of age,” Roberts said. “But that right-handed bat is something we need, and Justin is someone I certainly value.”