Does Trevor Bauer Signing Affect Justin Turner’s Potential Return to Dodgers?

jtdr
(Associated Press photo)

As the days leading up to the beginning of spring training dwindle, two huge things stay fresh in the minds of Dodgers fans—the recent signing of righty pitcher Trevor Bauer and the prospective return of veteran third baseman Justin Turner.

No question the Los Angeles payroll has already been debated heavily across the baseball blogosphere, but for the sake of discussion here, the biggest question right now is whether the Dodgers will blow past the 2021 Luxury Tax Threshold or limit the amount of extra money they must pay back to the league.

Theoretically, there’s still time for the Dodgers to sneak back under the threshold, but chances of that happening are quite slim. Seemingly, about the only way for that to happen is for the team to conduct a series of trades, resulting in the elimination of some of the bigger contracts. There have been some whispers that the club might be shopping David Price to offset salary, but it would surely take a lot more than a Price trade to get the Dodgers back under, if they are able to find a taker for the veteran lefty.

Earlier in the offseason, we discussed the potential difficulty in moving other significant salaries like the money owed to relievers Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly.

Based on the way other teams have been spending and constructing their respective budgets, finding a trade partner for Price, Jansen, or Kelly will be difficult, even if Los Angeles were to include an attractive prospect or two. Just to give you an idea as to where an assortment of other teams stand regarding payroll, the Pirates are estimated at around $55.7 million this year, which is less than the combined 2021 salaries of Bauer and Jansen alone.

kenley-jansen-joe-kelly
(Jon SooHoo)

The Rays, who captured the 2020 American League pennant, are projected to spend just over $79 million on team payroll in 2021.

The Yankees, who are notoriously known as a big-spending club, are currently estimated at a $202.4 million payroll, which is still about $8 million under the threshold.

Adding Bauer’s 2021 salary to the mix, the Dodgers are currently at $239.6 million—almost $30 million over.

Clubs are taxed 20 percent if they exceed the $210 million threshold. Should a team go over the threshold by more than $20 million, and additional 12 percent surtax is added, which is where the Dodgers currently sit. If a team exceeds the threshold by more than $40 million, it is taxed at a whopping 42.5% rate. All these numbers are based on first offenders, which the Dodgers are after resetting back in 2018.

Anyway, should the Dodgers add another $11 million in payroll, the team will be subject to the highest tax bracket for the upcoming year, which would apparently be the case if they decided to bring back Turner.

Personally, I was one of those fans who believed the team would not go over the threshold in 2021, but still find a way to bring back Turner by creating salary space through a trade. However, with Bauer now in the picture, it’s tough to guess what might happen. Of course, the team has given no hints as to which direction it might go with Turner, particularly after signing Bauer. The last we heard was that JT preferred a four-year deal while the Dodgers were not willing to go past two years.

On one hand, some think that since the club already surpassed the initial threshold, it shouldn’t be an issue tacking on more dollars to sign Turner. On the other hand, others believe the Dodgers might try to minimize their penalty by not signing Turner, perhaps even trying to offset more existing salary through a trade or two.

Conceivably, there are still many uncertainties surrounding the upcoming season with the pandemic still lingering. There have been no solid parameters set as far as fan attendance goes, which is one of the primary driving forces for team revenue. Even if attendance is regulated back to normalcy, it still doesn’t guarantee reasonable attendance from the extra-cautious fans, even for a team like the Dodgers.

The funny thing right now is that there’s even more suspense surrounding the team with the Bauer signing. Will the Dodgers go full throttle and bring back JT, elevating themselves into the highest possible tax bracket? Or will the team stand pat, giving fans the hint that it believes that a strong starting rotation supersedes the value of a formidable righty bat and a strong clubhouse presence?

In addition to the Dodgers, the Blue Jays and Brewers are among the teams showing interest in Turner.

14 thoughts on “Does Trevor Bauer Signing Affect Justin Turner’s Potential Return to Dodgers?

  1. I think bringing red back is a must. 4 years is a non starter though and good in AF for holding firm on that. A 1 year deal is ideal but that won’t happen. I don’t see why they couldn’t do a 2 year with a mutual option for a 3rd that either side could cut bait and defer some of the money. The question is what is his value right now? If I had to put a number on it I would say between $11-$13 million a year so maybe offer 2 years $24 mil with a 3rd option for $10 and a small buyout.

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  2. I’m looking forward to some sort of intro press conference with Bauer next week and am anxious to see how he deals with some questions he’ll certainly be getting from the press.

    Would also love to see an interview with AF with regard to the decisions that went into the Bauer signing and what’s new with JT returning (or not). Although Andrew wouldn’t just blurt out that he was going to bring JT back, we might at least get a hint based on how he would answer that kind of question.

    Players are due to report in the next 10 days or so. I can’t believe that Justin won’t be signed by someone in the next few days. Here’s hoping it’s us. To me, this delay is based on AF completing some sort of transaction, either clearing some salary so he doesn’t move into the highest penalty for signing JT or a trade which brings another third baseman and eliminates the chances for bringing Turner back.

    I predict there will be a Dodger trade on Monday or Tuesday which will also clear up the Turner question.

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  3. As soon as I saw Bauer had signed my first thought was that means Price is gone somehow. I think AF is committed to giving 2 spots in the rotation to Urias, May or Gonsulin. We will have to undoubtedly have to include a top 10-15 prospect or two to sweeten the salary any team would be taking on but that’s part of the business and we can afford it. I think it’s the only logical move. You trade him now while his numbers are still above average and he’s got some standalone value himself. Better to trade someone a year too soon than too late.

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    1. I would be a little surprised to see Price moved in a salary dump. If he’s part of a bigger trade that brings something worthwhile back, that would make more sense to me.

      Otherwise we’re paying Bauer 85 million to pitch for us over the next 2 years where we could have paid Price 32 million to do so. I guess it’s possible that AF thinks Bauer will be 2.5 times better than Price over that period of time, or they know something that tells them Price is likely not going to be very good, but other than that it just doesn’t strike me as a move Andrew would make.

      I think the idea of using May and Gonsolin as swing men for 2021 might be very appealing to the front office. They’ve both shown they can come out of the bullpen effectively and that would leave Price in the rotation.

      I think it’s more likely that he manages to find a way to move Kelly and/or Pollock. In Kelly’s case, we already have plenty of replacements for him but in Pollock’s case it would mean moving some guys around to share time with CT3 in left or to get a younger/cheaper left fielder back in the deal.

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      1. That’s important, because if Taylor’s used mainly in the OF, that means second base will be left to mainly Lux and/or McKinstry. Should either of those two falter, we could see Busch. It also stresses the importance of having a solid glove at 3B if there’s a youngster handling the keystone.

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  4. This is why Turner coming back is vital. You know you have a steady bat and solid glove and throwing arm at 3B to help stabilize what could be a 2B platoon. I think for $13 mil they are happy with the production and defensive versatility they got from Pollock last year so I’d be surprised if we was dealt with Joc also gone. I will be interested to see what happens with Price, Lux, and Keibert Ruiz the next couple weeks. Ruiz is completely blocked so he’s prime trade bait if they are trying to make a move and Price is obviously a salary issue but he can still be the staff ace on 1/3 of MLB teams right now. Then do you play Lux, start him in the minors or try to trade him before risking his trade value suddenly drop with another bad season? Lastly it’s going to interesting to see how they get Rios involved if Turner comes back. If he does I think we see a lot more Muncy at 2B with CT3 and Rios at 1B. Then after Taylor who is our 5th OF?

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    1. And, a lot of that depends on the potential inclusion of the DH this season. Still tons of questions to answer. Lots and lots of gray areas, especially if the team opens Spring Training without JT.

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  5. I’d be on the phone with the Mets about Price today. We know they wanted to upgrade their rotation and they feel good about their lineup with Lindor so it’s pretty obvious they are making a run at it. Maybe they take Price and a prospect for some promising young kids a ways from contributing and we get salary relief to sign Turner and perhaps another RH bench bat/OF. He would immediately slot in behind DeGrom as their #2.

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  6. Price is going no where. Trading him weakens the rotation. Why? Because none of those kids, Gonsolin, May or Urias, have proven anything over a 162 game schedule. With Kersh, Buehler, Bauer and Price as your top 4, you have one of the better rotations in the majors, you take Price out of that equation, and you have nothing but questions. I do not trust May to be a top of the line starter yet. A little more experience maybe. I do not see why all of you are so eager to dump a Cy Young winner, who if in the rotation gives them 3 Cy Young winners in the rotation. Moving him is a dumb idea. Why make anyone in the NL stronger? The Mets are going to battle Atlanta even with the staff they have, and when Thor comes back later in the season, they will be even more dangerous. If they were going to trade Price, getting him out of the league completely would make more sense. And do not forget, Price DOMINATED the Dodgers in the 18 World Series as did Kelly.

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    1. I don’t know, man. I could be wrong, but I sort of see the Smith-at-third idea almost like the Barnes-at-second experiment several years back. The same thing happened with Russell Martin situation at third base years ago. I just think catchers have too much responsibility. Even on their days off, they’re assisting with the game plans and strategies for the upcoming games.

      Smith might be different, though, because he has the ability to offensively produce like a normal third baseman. If they decide to give Barnesy 50% or more of the reps behind the plate, it might be worth looking at. But I’m not optimistic. If Turner doesn’t come back, I’d rather see a Rios/Taylor platoon.

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