Free-agent third baseman Justin Turner has announced that he will be returning to the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Turner shared the news in a tweet Saturday night. According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the deal is for two-years and worth $34 million.
There is a club option for a third season, and the deal is pending a physical, Rosenthal notes. Turner's contract is the largest guarantee for a free-agent position player 36 or older in first year of deal since Victor Martinez's four-year, $68 million contract with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, Rosenthal adds.
Coming into the offseason, we ranked Turner No. 7 among the top 60 free agents, and he was the highest ranked player left on the board with just a few weeks until spring training officially begins.
Turner, 36, has been a mainstay with the Dodgers since he signed with the club as a free agent in 2014. He fared well in the abbreviated 2020 season, slashing .307/.400/.460 with four home runs, nine doubles and 23 RBI in 175 plate appearances. He received interest from the Brewers, Mets and Blue Jays, among other teams this offseason.
Turner has seen his offensive production drop ever so slightly the last two years, and injuries limited him to 410 of 546 possible games from 2017-20, or 75 percent. However, he still figures to remain an asset with his bat and glove, at least in the near-term.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention that during Game 6 of the World Series, Turner returned to the field after learning that he had tested positive for COVID-19, leaving his mandated isolation. Despite the irresponsible and potentially harmful decision, it does not seem like this factored into the Dodgers' decision to bring Turner back. In fact, it was Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman who defended Turner's actions.
Major League Baseball completed its investigation into Turner's Game 6 behavior, and both Turner and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred both issued statements as part of the investigation's wrap-up. No punishment, be it a suspension or fine, was mentioned in the league's official release.
The Dodgers will look to repeat as World Series champions in the 2021 MLB season. While the defending champs didn't need a lot of upgrades this winter, but they still went out and signed the best available free agent starter in Trevor Bauer. Although, they did lose outfielder Joc Pederson, utilityman Enrique Hernandez, and reliever Pedro Baez in free agency, and will face steep competition from their division rival San Diego Padres this year.