Outside Interest in Rich Hill, Justin Turner Growing Stronger

(Photo Credit: bostonglobe.com)

Entering the offseason, the Dodgers already knew they’d have stiff competition in their quests to sign several key free agents, but considering a few of the prospective contract figures being mumbled around pitcher Rich Hill and infielder Justin Turner, efforts in retaining the duo may be much tougher than initially anticipated.

Presently, there are three other clubs rumored to have heavy interest in Hill. The Yankees, Rangers and Astros are the primary suitors at this point, realizing that Hill could very well be the best available starting pitching arm on the free agent market.

Whispers around the league have indicated that the Hill camp could perhaps be seeking a contract in the three-year/$50 million range, and considering the number of younger starting options the Dodgers have on the upper-fringe of the Triple-A level, a deal of more than two years with that much cash could be rough to justify.

The tail-end of a three-year contract would see Hill pitching into his age-39 season, and although a decrease in velocity certainly isn’t relevant in his case, health concerns surrounding an arm that was limited to 110-1/3 innings last season could prompt a red flag. Even though most of the injury issues revolved around ongoing blisters on his throwing hand, the incredibly high spin rate on his breaking pitches could suggest that he’s susceptible to similar problems in the future.

It may be unwise to believe that the southpaw will be able to maintain a 2.12 ERA, a 2.39 FIP and a 10.5 K/9 heading into his 2017 campaign, but as we’ve mentioned previously, he could be the best option until one or two of the Dodgers’ youngsters prove worthy of a permanent rotation spot.

According to Jon Morosi of the MLB Network, the Cardinals are the latest club to throw their hats into the Turner sweepstakes, despite already having a complete corps of talented infielders.

Pundits believe that the Red Birds would probably be likely to shop infielder Jhonny Peralta if they would score Turner. Hampered by injury, the 34-year-old Peralta is coming off a down season in 2016, but he did put up a relatively impressive .275/.334/.411 slash line with 17 home runs and 71 RBI in 2015.

While there are several players both internally and externally who could fill an inherent void for the Dodgers at the hot corner, none can match the value of Turner both offensively and defensively. At the dish in 2016, Turner had his most prolific season ever, having hit a very productive .275/.339/.493 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI. Despite entering his age-32 season, many speculations have Turner hauling in a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $85 million — money that the Dodgers’ front office would definitely be cautious to hand out considering their recently publicized endeavors to reduce payroll.

The Marlins have already made public their overwhelming desire to sign All-Star closer Kenley Jansen a few weeks ago, as they flirt with the idea of putting together a “super-bullpen” since there aren’t the types of starters available in the market to help them upgrade their starting rotation at a reasonable cost.

Those familiar with Jansen’s representation have speculated that the 2016 NL Reliever of the Year is seeking a contract in the $100 million range.


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