After staying relatively quiet for most of the winter, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been very active over the past week as the start of Spring Training is just around the corner.
They made arguably the biggest splash of the offseason by signing reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer to a three-year contract. Then on Friday morning, L.A. made an under-the-radar trade with the Oakland Athletics, acquiring a pair of prospects in infielder Sheldon Neuse and pitcher Gus Varland for reliever Adam Kolarek and outfielder Cody Thomas.
With the three-batter rule in place once again in 2021, the Dodgers didn’t have much of a need for Kolarek, who primarily excels against left-handed hitters. In acquiring Neuse, the Dodgers are getting the Athletics’ No. 5 prospect who already has some big league experience.
Neuse made his MLB debut in 2019 and spent time at both second base third base. Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers do not consider him a potential option to replace Justin Turner, according to Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
The Dodgers don't see Neuse as Justin Turner's replacement. He provides depth as a right-handed bat. Neuse made his major league debut in 2019 and has 61 plate appearances in 25 career games.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) February 12, 2021
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise considering the 26-year-old only has 25 games of experience under his belt. Neuse hit .250/.295/.304 with three doubles and seven RBI during that time.
While not a starter at third base, he is a right-handed bat who provides versatility and can essentially be viewed as a replacement for Kiké Hernandez instead of Turner.
The Dodgers also have Chris Taylor and Zach McKinstry to fill the utility role though, so there is no guarantee that Neuse makes the Opening Day roster.
Dodgers signing Bauer does not impact Turner
While it remains a mystery how Turner has not yet re-signed or found a new home, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman addressed the topic during Bauer’s introductory press conference.
The Dodgers may be over the luxury tax threshold, but Friedman said that will not impact their pursuit of Turner, who has been one of the team’s best players and clubhouse leaders in recent years.
While the Dodgers’ roster is shaping up to be the best in baseball again this season, there is no doubt that the one missing piece is a third baseman and right-handed bat, and Turner is the obvious choice to fill that role.
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