Even though the 2016 season is over and Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has officially become a free agent, few fans honestly considered the idea that he wouldn’t be back in Los Angeles next season. However, Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted a few
days ago that the Tampa Bay Rays are open to the idea of trading All-Star Third Baseman Evan Longoria and that the Dodgers are a possibility if they choose not to re-sign Turner.
This is probably the most intriguing tweet of the young hot stove season for me. Evan Longoria is one of my favorite players in baseball. Not only is he a fellow Long Beach State Alumni (Go Beach!), Longoria has been the face of the Rays basically since he first came up in 2008, only two shorts years after he was drafted 3rd overall. He will bring that type of image and leadership to a Los Angeles team that will need it more than ever with multiple veterans currently on the free agent market.
Even more importantly, if the Dodgers cannot re-sign Justin Turner there is going to be a major gap both defensively and in the lineup. Turner, who signed a minor league with the Dodgers in 2014, has turned into one of the games most consistent players and quickly became a mainstay in the Dodgers lineup. He is in line to make much much more than the $5.1 million he made last season and there will surely be multiple teams in on the bidding.
Both the Dodgers and Turner have made it clear that there is mutual interest in reaching a deal to keep him in blue. Don’t expect much of a hometown discount though. Turner will likely go to the highest bidder and the Dodgers new front office has already shown restraint in what types of deals they will give out. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Turner playing elsewhere next season.
If that is the case, I suspect that Jon Morosi is on to something. The only question is whether the Dodgers front office is willing to part with much of it’s young talent to secure the 3-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year. Although it is conceivable that the Dodgers could trade a player from the 40-man roster to facilitate the trade, it is much more likely that the Rays would want multiple young prospects from the Dodgers deep and talented farm system. This seems to have been the Rays style in the past and there isn’t much reason to believe that is changing now.
But which young prospects would the Dodgers be willing to part with for Longoria? I would imagine that there are a couple of players the Dodgers will want to avoid trading in this scenario. However, one of the two players I am about to talk about will almost certainly need to be involved for a trade to happen.
The other big name that the Dodgers would obviously like to hold on to is Jose De Leon. The Dodgers clearly feel that he is major league ready, as they brought him into the big leagues last season. Even though he is technically the Dodgers #2 prospect, he is probably the most valuable prospect to the team right now. The rotation is in serious need of help behind Clayton Kershaw and the free agent market is nothing to brag about. If the Dodgers want to make a push for their 5th straight division title they will need to rely on players like De Leon to step it up.
With Adrian Gonzalez not getting any younger, and with only 2 more years left on his contract, the Dodgers would certainly like to hold on to current #1 prospect Cody Bellinger. The 21-year-old has already hit 60 home runs and driven in over 230 RBI in the minors and is knocking on the door of the majors. But as much as I like Bellinger, if it meant locking up Longoria for the next 6 years I would gladly build a package around him to send to the Rays.