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Dodgers News and Notes: Austin Barnes Avoids Arbitration, Justin Turner Returns, and More

This is the week, baseball fans! Spring Training is set to start this week, and the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching and catching staff will be starting their workouts on February 18th, this coming Thursday.

The best part about it is that the band is pretty much back together. Despite the loss of both Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers’ lineup will remain relatively the same.

Saturday night, via his own social media, Justin Turner announced that he will be returning to the Dodgers. He and the team reportedly reached an agreement for 2 years and $34 million. There may be a club option for a third year—the deal has not yet been made official by the team.

Although it took longer than most fans had hoped, JT’s return seemed inevitable. It is rumored that Turner was offered more money by another team—possibly three years by the Milwaukee Brewers—but in the end, he decided that Los Angeles truly was home for him.

Turner is 36 years old and could start to decline soon. The DH being probable in 2022, and perhaps still this season, will help guard against that, as it will allow the Dodgers to rest their defacto team captain more often. Also, Turner could move to first base if that became necessary.

The Dodgers 40-man roster is full, so a move will have to be made to make room for Turner. If they wait until Wednesday, they can transfer both Caleb Ferguson and Tommy Kahnle to the injured list, creating space for Turner and another player to be added to the 40-man roster.

On Sunday, the Dodgers and catcher Austin Barnes reached an agreement avoiding arbitration. The two sides agreed to a two year, $4.3 million contract.

Barnes had asked for $2 million in arbitration, and the Dodgers had countered with $1.5 million. He will receive a $300,000 signing bonus, $1.5 million in 2021, and a $2.5 million salary in 2022. The base salary in 2022 will increase by $100,000 for 70 games and 80 games in 2021, and he will also receive $100,000 for the same levels in 2022.

While he has been relegated to mostly a back-up roll during the regular season, Barnes was pivotal in the playoffs, being Clayton Kershaw’s personal choice at catcher. His framing skills helped keep him behind the plate throughout most of the playoffs, with fellow catcher Will Smith mostly getting the DH role. And while he had been subpar at the plate, Barnes had a .320 batting average in the 2020 postseason, and his hit was the one that knocked Blake Snell out of Game 6.

It was a wonderful weekend for Barnes as he also became a first-time dad. Austin and his wife Nicole welcomed a son, Royce Barnes. Congratulations to the new parents!

Now that the Dodgers have settled all of their contracts, their payroll sits at approximately $250 million, as they’re the only team in the MLB currently over $210 million. They are into the highest bracket of the luxury tax penalty threshold. They also are about $60 million over any other major league team.

Their penalty would be about $13 million, and they will lose 10 spots in the amateur draft, which would put them into the 30s with their first pick.

But, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman had stated in the Trevor Bauer press conference that the Dodgers view the payroll over a three to five year period and not just one year at a time. They have worked to keep the payroll under the luxury tax over the last three seasons, resetting the penalties they would accrue. In addition, the Dodgers have multiple contracts coming off of the books after this season.

The Dodgers are all-in on being repeat champions. They have made key additions to an already stacked lineup and look to be the strongest all-around team in the majors, and possibly one of the greatest in franchise history. Let’s see what this team can do over a full season.

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