As we talked about on Saturday, with the Cardinals already losing their first round pick for signing Dexter Fowler, it would be neat to see them go for another free agent, being that it would only cost them a second round pick. The name receiving the most attention: Edwin Encarnacion.
Encarnacion is still on the market and that doesn’t appear to be close to changing. However, 56% of his games played in the last two years has been at a position that isn’t a thing in the National League. Entering his age 34 season, it would be a bit odd for someone like Edwin to jump ship to the N.L. at this point in his career.
Instead, like the rest of the offseason, I’ve supported signing Justin Turner. If you’re tired of me stumping for Turner then you just might be in luck, as this could very well be the last time I do so. The Dodgers and Turner are closing in on a four year deal, for around $65M. Using $8.5m as the cost of a win in free agency, 5% inflation, as well as an average aging curve, Turner only needs to be considered a 2.8 WAR player right now in order to be worth that deal:
I added on $7.7m, which covers the value lost from losing the Cardinals’ second round pick. What rubs me the wrong way, is that Turner is worth much more than 2.8 WAR. Even with talk about their debt obligations, the Dodgers are the last team that needs a player to take a team-friendly discount. Steamer currently has Turner worth 3.7 WAR in 2017, and when Zips was included in the projections back in October, it was even higher. As far as past production goes, he’s averaged 5.6 WAR/600 PA over the last three years. 5.6 WAR is twice as much as 2.8 WAR, which is all Turner needs to worth in 2017 to be on his way earning that contract offer.
It seems unlikely at this stage that Mozeliak and the Cardinals would come over the top with a better offer. However, offering him the Dexter Fowler deal would certainly be enough to throw a wrench in the Dodger’s plans. Despite a rumor a couple weeks back of the Cardinals having interest, the market for Turner has been just the Dodgers for some time. That’s unlikely to change at this point in the game. It seems as though the Cardinals do not see the infield as a spot in need of an upgrade.
That’s understandable, in that there isn’t a hole. Behind Matt Carpenter and Aledmys Diaz, the team currently would rely on Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia, and Matt Adams to fill out the other two non-battery infield positions. Mozeliak (if not Matheny) is committed to playing Wong everyday, and you don’t have to squint hard to see a bounce-back candidate in Jhonny Peralta. Jedd Gyorko had a nice 2016, makes a great platoon partner for Wong, and could play third in the case that Peralta doesn’t bounce-back. Greg Garcia is no zero either. In 362 MLB plate appearances, he’s been an above-average hitter, and can play all the non-battery infield positions adequately.
So there’s definitely not a hole in the infield. Still, it would have been nice to add a high-end talent to the team, especially when it looks like he’ll be signed for well below what a player of his caliber should go for. It would have solidified the team’s chances at winning the Wild Card, as well as made it more likely to upset the Cubs for the division. With the Cardinals already signing Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil, I can’t complain. But a guy can dream, right? This specific dream, however, looks to be coming to an end.