With only a handful of days remaining before players start filing into the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch, there’s mainly one thing on the minds of Dodgers fans—whether the team will re-sign veteran third baseman Justin Turner.
Before Los Angeles caused shockwaves across the baseball blogosphere when signing Trevor Bauer to a monumental deal last week, those same fans wondered if the team would surpass the 2021 Luxury Tax Threshold to land Turner. Now, the big question is how much the team will go over.
According to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, Turner has multi-year offers from the Dodgers and the Brewers. The Mets, Blue Jays and Braves are also rumored to have shown interest.
As far as the Brewers go, lefty-hitting Eric Sogard and righty-hitting Luis Urias spent time at third base in 2020. Sogard slashed a mere .209/.281/.278 with one homer in 41 games, while Urias hit .239/.308/.294 with no homers, also appearing in 41 games. Both Sogard and Urias can play all around the infield.
On the other hand, Turner hit .307/.400/.460 with four homers in 42 games.
It’s easy to see why the Brewers want to land JT, at least from a simple offensive perspective.
Nevertheless, it’s tough to imagine another team, especially a National League club with no designated hitter needs, offering JT more than two years. The last we heard, Los Angeles felt comfortable giving the 36-year-old vet two years, but the Turner camp was insistent upon a deal closer to four years.
Still, one can only guess how far the organization is prepared to blow past the Luxury Tax Threshold to make any additional moves. On Friday, Los Angeles traded lefty reliever Adam Kolarek to Oakland and righty reliever Dylan Floro to Miami, saving the team an approximate $1.5 million in Luxury Tax payroll.
As of the time of this writing, the Dodgers are currently estimated to have a $240,500,824 team payroll according to a worksheet at Fangraphs.
If a team exceeds the $210 million threshold, it is subject to a 20 percent tax on all overages. Should a team surpass the threshold by $20 million to $40 million, it is subject to an additional 12 percent surtax, which is where the Dodgers currently sit.
The highest tax bracket occurs when a team exceeds the threshold by more than $40 million, which is where Los Angeles might be if a deal with Turner is reached.
According to our friend Tim Dierkes at MLBTR, Turner is estimated at securing a deal worth two years and $24 million. That would put the Dodgers’ 2021 payroll at more than $252 million.
One interesting statement that came from front-office boss Andrew Friedman at the Bauer presser on Thursday was that the organization doesn’t necessarily consider team payroll on a year-by-year basis.
“We run our payroll looking at over three, four, five years, not in any one moment of time,” Friedman said. “So past moves have created flexibility, things that happen in the future will. For us, it’s about doing everything we can to go out and defend a title.”
Still, it’s hard to tell what the future might hold regarding team revenue without the amount of prospective fan attendance being undetermined for the upcoming regular season. On Friday, we learned that up to 2400 people will be permitted to watch games during Cactus League play, but it’s still not known what may happen at Dodger Stadium.
In the meantime, it’s safe to say that the Dodgers will definitely pay some sort of Luxury Tax penalty in 2021.
Whatever the case may be, it’s tough for anybody to argue that Friedman and his troops aren’t doing “everything they can to go out and [valiantly] defend a title.”