Justin Turner’s return to the Dodgers is now official, with the team announcing his two-year, $34 million contract on Friday. The deal includes a club option for 2023 as well.
“It’s a perfect fit. It makes sense. He’s comfortable, and he’s flourished here. The fanbase and organization adores him, and it’s mutual,” manager Dave Roberts said Friday on a conference call. “For this to finally get done, I know it’s a big relief for him. Now we can go and get to work.”
Turner himself announced his return to the Dodgers on Feb. 13, on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. On Friday, from Camelback Ranch, Turner described his discussions with other teams in free agency.
“It was flattering to have been courted like that from other teams. Other teams that are competitive, other teams that are trying to make a big splash,” Turner said. “But at the end of the day it all worked out like it was supposed to, and I’m back in Dodger blue like I was supposed to be.”
To make room for Turner on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers placed pitcher Caleb Ferguson, who had Tommy John surgery on September, on the 60-day injured list.
Per the Associated Press, plus Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jon Heyman, here is the breakdown of Turner’s deal:
He gets an $8 million signing bonus, payable in four installments of $2 million each, on July 1, 2021, then each January 15 from 2024-26.
2021: $8 million
2022: $16 million
2023: $16 million option ($2 buyout)
Turner’s 2023 option can move from a club option to a vesting option if he finishes in the top 15 of MVP voting in 2022. If Turner is in the top 10 of MVP voting in 2022, his 2023 option vests at $20 million. If he finishes between 11th and 15th, and with at least 10 total points, Turner’s option will vest at $17.5 million.
Turner finished ninth in NL MVP voting in 2016, and eighth in 2017. In 2018 he was 14th, totaling exactly 10 points with a seventh-place vote, a ninth-place vote and four 10th-place votes.
At a maximum, the total value of the contract would be $52 million over three seasons.
For competitive balance tax purposes, Turner’s total $34 million guarantee over two years brings an average annual value of $17 million, perhaps discounted a bit because of the deferred signing bonus, though I haven’t yet seen that amount.
Turner just completed a four-year, $64 million contract, though his 2020 salary of $19 million was pro-rated to $7.04 million in the pandemic-truncated season.
Mookie Betts and Trevor Bauer are the only Dodgers players under contract for 2023, though Bauer can opt out of his contract after both the 2021 or 2022 seasons. Turner is one of four players with options for 2023 — Max Muncy, Blake Treinen, and Turner have club options, and A.J. Pollock has a player option that season.
With Turner now signed, they have 20 players under contract for 2021 for a total of just under $223 million. Add in assumptions for the rest of the 40-man roster (majors and minors) plus team benefits, the Dodgers’ payroll for competitive balance tax purposes is roughly $255 million. Should the Dodgers end the season with a CBT payroll over $250 million, their tax bill will be $10.4 million plus 62.5 percent of everything over $250 million, in addition to seeing their first draft pick in 2022 drop by 10 slots and a $500,000 reduction in their bonus pool for the 2022-23 international signing period.
“We run our payroll, looking at it every three, four, or five years, not at any one moment in time,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on February 11. “Past moves have created some flexibility for things that will happen in the future. For us it’s about doing everything we can to go out and defend our title.”
Friedman reiterated that on Friday from Camelback Ranch.
“The moves and things we’ve done the last three years gave us a little more flexibility right now,” he said. “We know there are some added costs associated with it, which is not ideal, and it is a cost. But we feel like with where we are and the team we have, the reward outweighs that.”