Before Justin Turner solidified himself as an All-Star at third base with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’d spent the bulk of his career filling a utility role. In 2014 — Turner’s first season with the club — he played first base, second base, third base and shortstop.
By 2016 he essentially was an exclusive third baseman; Turner did log one inning across the diamond that year. Now ahead of a seventh season with the Dodgers, Turner finds himself at the root of speculation over a potential position change.
With the Dodgers having been eliminated in the National League Division Series, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated the club will consider all options to improve the roster.
On the position-player front, Washington Nationals All-Star Anthony Rendon figures to be one of the more sought after free agents this winter. If the Dodgers elect to pursue Rendon, one hurdle they won’t need to worry about is whether Turner would move away from third base, per Andy McCullough of The Athletic:
“I’ve bounced around [the diamond] my whole career,” Turner said. “I don’t care.”
Turner expanded on his willingness to change positions, duly noting a player often doesn’t have much input on such a decision:
“It’s out of my control,” Turner said. “Maybe they’ll call and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do. What do you think?’ But I doubt it. It’s not their job to get permission from players. Whatever they want to do is what they want to do.”
Turner nearly found himself possibly moving off third base in December 2015 when the Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds were in the process of constructing a three-team trade. But instead of Todd Frazier winding up in L.A., he was sent to the White Sox.
Under the Rendon scenario, Turner moving to first base presumably would slide Max Muncy over to second. In turn, that eliminates a possible starting role for Kiké Hernandez, Gavin Lux or Chris Taylor. Of course, Lux could play shortstop if the Dodgers then elected to trade Corey Seager, as some have posited.
The first domino to any potential shuffling involving Turner and others squarely lies on the Dodgers signing Rendon — or acquiring another elite third baseman. Friedman has historically avoided doling out a long-term contract, and there doesn’t figure to be a lack of suitors for Rendon.
However, some believe he would have interest in the type of record-breaking short-term contract the Dodgers attempted to entice Bryce Harper with.