MLB Free Agency 2020: Predictions for Justin Turner, Top Available Infielders

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner makes a catch during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Cleveland Indians Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Justin Turner has been an integral part of the Los Angeles Dodgers' success over the past decade, but his time with the ballclub may be coming to an end.

The 35-year-old is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, and with Los Angeles in possession of so much young talent, he may sign elsewhere.

There is also some uncertainty whether DJ LeMahieu will return to the New York Yankees, especially if the American League East side has its sights set on bigger names.

Of the top free-agent infielders, Marcus Semien has the best chance to re-sign with his current club at the moment, as interest in an extension has been expressed.


Free-Agent Predictions for Top Infielders

Justin Turner

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Dodgers have to weigh whether Turner can keep up his power at the plate, or to transition to another one of their young stars at third base.

In 2019, the veteran tied his career high with 27 home runs, and he has hit at least 20 long balls in three of the last four campaigns.

Despite his consistent power, though, his splits dropped across the board, and he recorded his second-highest strikeout total.

In May, Turner told Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times that he did not want the 2019 playoff exit to be his last time in a Dodgers uniform, if the 2020 season was cancelled.

"It's definitely something that I've thought about a few times and don't want," he said. "Obviously there's a possibility that there's no season and my Dodger career could've ended last year in the playoffs, which would be tough. It would be sad. Sad to think about."

The Dodgers may not be willing to pay Turner near the $19 million he would have made in a full season at the back end of a four-year deal.

In Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Gavin Lux, Will Smith and Enrique Hernandez, the Dodgers have a handful of players hungry for at-bats who can play all over the diamond.

If Turner departs, the Dodgers could cycle one of their versatile stars to the hot corner, or use the departure as motivation to chase Francisco Lindor, or another top hitter, to place a marquee bat in the middle of the order.

If he hits the market, Turner should have a handful of suitors because of his exploits at the dish, but it may take a while for the list of destinations to come together because of the potential for some spots to be filled during a shortened 2020 season.

Prediction: Turner departs Los Angeles and signs elsewhere.


DJ LeMahieu

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

LeMahieu came into the Bronx as a consolation prize in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, but he quickly proved his worth in the Yankees lineup.

The 31-year-old produced career bests in home runs, RBI and hits in 2019, which is significant since he spent most of his time in the big leagues hitting for 81 games at Coors Field.

By flexing power in the Yankees lineup, LeMahieu proved he could put up strong numbers away from Colorado, and in turn, made himself even more valuable on the free-agent market.

While a long-term union between the two parties seems smart after LeMahieu's 2019 campaign, this is the Yankees after all.

The allure of Trevor Story, Lindor or Nolan Arenado possibly being available through free agency or a trade in the coming years could stop them from committing to LeMahieu in the long term.

Story and Lindor are unrestricted free agents after 2022 and could be traded for in 2021 if the Yankees follow a similar strategy used at the 2019 trade deadline by acquiring players with a year-and-a-half of control.

Prying Arenado away from the Rockies would be a much more difficult task since he is under contract until 2027, and it would take a massive haul to even strike up a conversation with Colorado.

Although pairing a top hitter with Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez in the heart of the order is intriguing, the Yankees should be happy with what they have in LeMahieu, at least for a few more years.

He signed a two-year, $24 million deal in 2019, and even if he makes more on a new deal, he would still come cheaper than one of the game's top infielders.

Prediction: LeMahieu re-signs with the Yankees.


Marcus Semien

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Oakland is not known for replacing its stars with higher-profile names at the same position.

That is one of the many reasons it stands a better chance to keep Semien in the Bay Area compared to the chances of the Dodgers retaining Turner and the Yankees holding on to LeMahieu.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported in November that Semien "told A's he's interested in extension."

The shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic halted any talks over the past few months, but it makes sense for the parties to engage in negotiations.

Semien is coming off the best season of his career with 33 home runs, 92 RBI and an .892 OPS. He could be the centerpiece of the Oakland lineup for a few more seasons and would be able to play close to home.

Additionally, the Athletics may not have to break the bank for the 29-year-old, who was scheduled to make $13 million in a full 2020 season. If Oakland hands him a raise of a few million per year, he could be one of the top-five highest-paid shortstops.

Boston's Xander Bogaerts makes the most per year at shortstop at $20 million, and if Semien signs for anywhere between $15-$17 million per year, it could be viewed as a great deal.

Prediction: Semien re-signs with Oakland.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Baseball ReferenceContract information obtained from Spotrac.