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Justin Turner 2016 salary arbitration preview

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Justin Turner has had two very productive seasons in Los Angeles, including grabbing hold of the starting third baseman job in 2015. He is eligible for salary arbitration and due a hefty raise in 2016.

Turner's case is a little odd, in that he was non-tendered after 2013 by the Mets when he was first eligible for salary arbitration. The Dodgers scooped him up on a minor-league deal, with Turner earning $1 million in base salary in his first season with Los Angeles.

That artificially lowered Turner's start in arbitration, which could affect the other two years through the process. Turner made $2.5 million in 2015, and heads into 2016 with five years, 45 days of service time, one year from free agency.

Here is a look at some comparable infielders to Turner in both service time and performance, with a look at both their career numbers and launch years. We looked at some of the same players last year, too.

Comparable arbitration-eligible infielders (career)
Infielder Years Svc Time PA BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR Salary
Justin Turner
2009-2015 5.045 1,687 .284/.351/.419 116 .339 118 8.9 7.7 tbd
David Freese 2009-2014 5.028 2,266 .280/.348/.417 112 .338 116 7.2 9.1 $6,425,000
Casey McGehee 2008-2014 5.028 2,732 .264/.324/.400 97 .318 96 2.7 5.4 $4,800,000
Jed Lowrie 2008-2013 5.111 1,969 .264/.332/.427 104 .332 105 7.3 9.4 $5,250,000
Alberto Callaspo 2006-2012 5.135 2,728 .275/.335/.384 97 .317 95 10.6 9.2 $4,100,000
Martin Prado 2006-2012 5.105 2,799 .295/.345/.435 109 .341 111 16.2 13.6 $7,000,000
*First year of four-year contract

Freese looks like a pretty close comp for Turner, though with roughly a full season's worth of plate appearances more on his ledger. In career numbers, Lowrie might be the closest in both performance and playing time trough five years of service.

These comps are also a nice reminder that Alberto Callaspo was once better than he showed in 2015.

Turner has the bulk of his value coming in the last two seasons, so let's look at these same comparable players in their launch seasons heading into arbitration with five years of service time.:

Single-season arbitration-eligible infielders
Infielder Year PA BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR Salaryn Salaryn+1 Increase
Justin Turner
2015 439 .294/.370/.471 138 .371 141 3.9 4.0 $2,500,000 tbd tbd
David Freese 2014 408 .267/.322/.372 89 .306 88 0.8 1.0 $5,050,000 $6,425,000 +27.2%
Casey Mcgehee
2014 691 .287/.355/.357 101 .319 102 1.1 1.4 $1,100,000 $4,800,000 +336.3%
Jed Lowrie
2013 662 .290/.344/.446 119 .345 120 2.0 3.5 $2,400,000 $5,250,000 +118.8%
Alberto Callaspo 2012 520 .252/.331/.361 96 .308 98 3.4 3.1 $3,150,000 $4,100,000 +30.2%
Martin Prado 2012 690 .301/.359/.438 114 .345 117 5.5 5.3 $4,750,000 $7,000,000* +47.4%
*First year of four-year contract

McGehee played in Japan in 2013, which deflated his 2014 salary coming back to MLB. Turner stands out with his 2015 production, with the only other player to top him (Prado) receiving a four-year, $40 million deal, then with Atlanta.

2016 guess

MLB Trade Rumors projected a salary for Turner of $5.3 million. I think Lowrie remains the best comp for Turner above, with Turner's strong 2015 season giving him a bump over Lowrie's 2014 salary of $5.25 million. I think Turner also beats the year-to-year increase for Lowrie from his fourth to fifth years of service, so I will guess a 2016 salary of $5.6 million for Turner, a 124 percent increase over 2015.

These arbitration studies are made much easier thanks to Baseball-Reference, Cot's Baseball Contracts, MLB Trade Rumors and FanGraphs.