Trea Turner and the Dodgers avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $21MM salary for the 2022 season, but those were seemingly the only contract talks between the two sides this winter. Turner told The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya and other reporters that the team told him that no extension offer would be coming prior to the start of the season. Earlier this offseason prior to the lockout, Turner said that the Dodgers had engaged in some light but nonspecific negotiations about a possible long-term deal, without any offers or numbers exchanged.
Turner didn’t sound upset about the lack of talks, saying “the money will take care of itself. It’s why you have agents and whatnot….I just asked them to be honest with me. They were honest with me, a few days ago, a week ago, whatever it was. It’s time to play, and time to try to win a World Series.”
It doesn’t seem likely that any negotiating will take place during the season, with Turner now focused on baseball and simply because it’s rare for such major impending free agents to agree to extensions as they get closer and closer to the open market. Assuming he delivers his usual numbers in 2022, the shortstop projects as the top free agent of the 2022-23 class.
Despite the lack of talks to date with the Dodgers, a return to Los Angeles can’t be ruled out. For one, the free-spending Dodgers are one of the teams best suited to pay the mega-contract that Turner will demand on the open market. L.A. has also been willing to let major names (such as Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Clayton Kershaw) all test in the market in the past before eventually re-signing them.
The Dodgers have quite a bit of money coming off the books next winter, though a lot of that space could be taken up by extensions, options being exercised, and escalating arbitration costs. Furthermore, with the Dodgers approaching the top $290MM penalty threshold of the luxury tax, it’s possible the front office could slightly dial things back by “only” spending at the next tier down.
If Turner did leave, the Dodgers might look to replace him with Gavin Lux, should Lux establish himself as a quality big leaguer this season. Utilityman Chris Taylor is another in-house option, but since this is the Dodgers we’re talking about, the club could explore bringing in another star name via trade (like how Turner himself was acquired essentially as Corey Seager’s replacement) or via free agency — Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts are two of the shortstops expected to opt out of their contracts after the season.