Justin Turner is officially headed back to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that should about seal the team's juggernaut status for the upcoming 2021 season.
The All-Star third baseman announced the news himself with a tweet:
— Justin Turner (@redturn2) February 14, 2021
And he also threw in an Instagram post indicating he's already headed to Arizona for spring training.
The terms of Turner's deal with the Dodgers are for two years and $34 million with a third-year club option, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
That salary comes with an extra price for the Dodgers though, as adding a $17 million AAV to a payroll already hovering around $233 million, according to Cot's Contracts, would push their payroll above the competitive balance tax threshold at which their first draft pick moves back 10 slots in the 2021 MLB draft.
Turner had reportedly garnered interest from other teams, most notably the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, but the belief all along was the Southern California native would need a massive offer to leave the Dodgers. The team had an offer on the table all offseason, and with pitchers and catchers reporting within a week, he apparently decided it was time to make his return official.
Justin Turner fills Justin Turner-sized hole on Dodgers roster
The deal fills what was the Dodgers' largest remaining hole in a roster that was already projected to be baseball's best by a wide margin. Without Turner, the Dodgers would have likely turned to a mixture of unproven bats like Edwin Rios, Sheldon Neuse and Matt Beaty to fill the position, plus the possibility of moving over players from other spots like Max Muncy and Chris Taylor.
Instead, the Dodgers will once again have Turner starting nearly every day. The 36-year-old has been the Dodgers' most reliable bat since landing with the team after being non-tendered by the New York Mets in 2013. He hit .307/.400/.460 in the shortened 2020 season, then helped lead the Dodgers to their first World Series championship since 1988.
Of course, Turner also garnered plenty of infamy as his team hoisted the trophy. Turner exited the deciding Game 6 of the World Series after his COVID-19 test came back positive, then shocked, perplexed and infuriated the baseball world by returning to the field to celebrate the championship with his teammates on the field.
Turner avoided punishment for the incident, but it remains a bizarre footnote in both his career and the Dodgers' title. But it won't be the final story of his tenure with the team.
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