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Looking at third base options for the Dodgers

The Dodgers still don’t have a starting third baseman for 2021

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Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

It’s February 10, and the Dodgers still haven’t signed Justin Turner. Players will be reporting to their spring training facilities in a week, and Turner has yet to sign with a team. Although he’s been attached to teams such as the Mets and Brewers as of late, every tweet ends the same way. “The Dodgers are still expected to sign Justin Turner”.

But, why haven’t they?

I still lean towards thinking Turner and LA reach some sort of deal, but my confidence in it shrinks with each passing day. So, what happens if the Dodgers don’t bring back Turner?

Platoon of Max Muncy and Edwin Rios

Without Turner, and without making a move, this is the option the Dodgers would be looking at. I’m sure Chris Taylor and Zach McKinstry might add in a start every now and then, but the bulk of time spent at third base would likely be split between Muncy and Rios. Muncy has the most experience, with 106 big-league games there under his belt. However, if you’ve watched the same games I’ve watched, you’d know that Muncy at third full-time is not an ideal option.

Muncy has 19 errors in his time there, an average of one error every five games and an average of 29 errors over the course of a 162-game season. It’s great that Muncy has the ability to start there if needed for a game or two, but I don’t think the Dodgers would be comfortable putting him there for a good chunk of games.

The other option is Rios. He only has 26 career big-league games playing third and has only started there 16 times. Plus, he has a fielding percentage of 92.3 percent, as he has three errors in 39 chances at third.

Again, both Muncy and Rios are capable of playing third if needed to give Turner rest. But over the course of a 162-game season? I don’t think that’s a path the Dodgers would want to go down.

Matt Chapman

If the Dodgers were to somehow acquire Matt Chapman from the Athletics, they would have the greatest lineup in the history of the franchise, no questions asked. Chapman is one of the best third basemen in all of baseball, and he’s arguably the best defensively.

Not only did he take home the Gold Glove Award in 2018 and 2019, he also took home the Platinum Award, which goes to the best defensive player in each league. On top of his incredible glove, he brings an amazing bat. Over his last three seasons, Chapman has hit 70 home runs with 184 RBI and 87 doubles. He’s also slugging .510 with an OPS of .851. He finished top seven in MVP voting in 2018 and 2019.

Chapman appeared in only 37 games last season, missing more than 13 of the year. However, he still hit 10 home runs and had an OPS of above .800.

Just his production alone will make him cost a lot. However, it is his contract that might make him untouchable for Oakland. He’s set to make just over $6,000,000 million this season and will become an unrestricted free-agent in 2024. Not only is he cheap, you’ll have control over him for years at an affordable price.

Will Oakland trade him? It’s hard to believe they would. They’re still a competitive team and will likely be fighting for a playoff spot. However, we know that they don’t like paying their players whatsoever. Chapman is going to get pricier each season, and there’s a chance this could be the highest his value ever is. So, what would a deal potentially look like?

Well, you’d assume it would have to include Gavin Lux, one of LA’s top young pieces. In addition, one of LA’s top young arms would likely be dealt as well, whether that be Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin or Josiah Gray. My guess is that it would require at least one more top 10 prospect, and then maybe a player with big-league experience. It would cost a lot for sure, but to get a player of Chapman’s caliber with years of an affordable contract, it certainly would be worth it.

There’s a very likely chance Friedman hasn’t even considered Chapman. And even if he has, there’s a likely chance Oakland picked up the phone, listened for a minute, and then hung up.

Still, how exciting of a move would that be?

Kris Bryant

This is a name that has seems to have been attached to the Dodgers all offseason. With the exception of 2020, Bryant has been fantastic throughout his major-league career. Just in 2019, he was an All-Star who hit 31 homers with 35 doubles and had an OPS above .900. However, he looked bad in 2020.

He had career-lows across the board, and there were a lot of concerns over his swing moving forward. There was a decline, but you do have to remember, it was only a 34-game sample size. Bryant is 29 years old, is under contract for only one year and has the potential to return to his All-Star form.

In addition to his bat returning, his versatility with the glove would be an added bonus. He’s an average third baseman with the glove, nothing spectacular. However, his ability to play third base, first base and the outfield could be beneficial for LA, as we’ve seen them maximize versatile players over the years.

So, if the Cubs would be willing to part with Bryant, what would his cost be? It definitely won’t take as much as it would for Chapman, as Bryant has only one year remaining on his contract.

Keibert Ruiz could headline the package, as the Cubs could use a young catcher once Wilson Contreras leaves. In addition, a prospect or two in the top 15-20 should be enough to get a deal done.

Just like Chapman, not sure how much of a chance there is for a deal to happen. You’d think if the Cubs were to deal Bryant, they would have done it by now with spring training starting in a week. However, anything can happen.

Eugenio Suarez

Another name that we’ve heard a few times this offseason is Eugenio Suarez of the Cincinnati Reds. Suarez, who like Bryant is 29 years old, is under a very affordable contract. He has at least four years left on his deal. He’ll earn $10.7 million in 2021 and $11.2 million each of the next three seasons before a $15-million team option for 2025. So pretty much, the Dodgers could have control over him for the foreseeable future.

With Kody Hoese still a few years away, Suarez would be the perfect option until he’s ready. Plus, with the DH likely coming to the NL next season, he could also slide into that spot as he’s one of the best power hitters in all of baseball.

His 124 home runs since 2017 are tied for the fourth most in the majors. He hit 49 in 2019 and was on pace for about 43 homers over a full season in 2020. Oh, even better, he’s a right-handed bat! His addition to the lineup would certainly be welcoming.

His price won’t be as high as Chapman’s, but it could potentially cost more than Bryant, solely due to his team-friendly contract. LA could likely avoid parting with one of their top prospects, but it certainly would cost a number of top 15 guys potentially, plus maybe some big-league talent as well.

The Reds are in a tough spot, as they likely can still contend for a Wild Card spot next season. Should they just slowly tear it down and save money and build the farm, or hold onto their top assets? Good luck, Cincy.

Other names

  • Jose Ramirez — This one would be a dream come true. However, Cleveland is reportedly is not interested in moving him. The Indians still think they can compete in 2021.
  • Brian Anderson Not a splashy name, but Anderson has been very productive for the Marlins over the last three seasons. He finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, and has 42 homers, 74 doubles and an OPS of .785 over his last three seasons. He’s set to make $3,800,000 this year and won’t be an unrestricted free-agent until 2024.