March 4, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Justin Turner on his return: ‘I’m back in Dodger Blue’

The Dodgers made it official Friday morning, just a few minutes before Justin Turner would take a seat in their Zoom room at Camelback Ranch: Turner was back.

The contract was agreed to last Saturday. It’s worth $34 million over two years, according to people with knowledge of the situation. It includes an $8-million signing bonus and a club option for a third year.

Turner spent about 15 minutes answering questions from the media. He wore a Dodgers cap. His red beard appeared in its infant stage. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, speaking before Turner, said the third baseman is in excellent shape before suggesting that reporters ask Turner to twirl for the camera as proof. He didn’t twirl.

Turner spoke about the (overwhelmingly positive) fan reaction to his return, whether at one point he thought he would sign with another team, and if he worried that his decision to return to the field to celebrate the Dodgers’ championship after testing positive for COVID-19 would affect his market.

Here are some highlights from the video conference:

On the free agent process: “It was a little different. Coming off of last year, there was a little expectation for it to be slower than normal. But even then, it felt like it was an eternity. It felt like it took forever. But the process for me was great. Had some good conversations with some other organizations. Some competitive teams. Wherever I ended up, I wanted a chance to win a World Series. Was definitely flattering to be courted like that, but at the end of the day, I’m back in Dodger Blue, like I was supposed to be.”

On whether he was close to signing with another team: “It’s hard to say if it was ever close or not, but there were definitely some ups and downs in the process, where some things happened where I wasn’t sure I’d end up back with Dodgers. But through the whole process, in conversations with [my agent] Greg [Genske] and Andrew and what they were passing to me, it was pretty reassuring that the desire to have me back here was still there. But there were times when I thought, ‘Oh man, this doesn’t look good. I’m not sure this was going to happen.’”

On whether he was worried the way last season ended would affect his chances of return: “I didn’t know what it was going to do, if that would be a big factor in the Dodgers’ decision on wanting me back. Going into the process, it was definitely a big question mark and a big unknown as to how people would perceive that and how they’d pursue me. But once I got into conversations with other teams and cleared the air on that stuff, it all started to move forward and building momentum.”

On his emotions the night the Dodgers won the World Series: “It was extremely difficult. I think I experienced just about every range of emotion you could possibly have. Getting taken out of the game, trying to figure out what was happening, winning the World Series, being excited, being thrilled, seeing Julio [Urías] get that last out, you finally accomplish your goal, but then, for me, sitting back in that room and watching the guys dogpile, personally, it felt like it was the third time I had to sit and watch a team celebrate winning the World Series. That was tough. It’s something that’s still on the top of my list. I still have not been able to be on the field for the last out to celebrate a championship, and that’s something I’m determined to show up and work for every day and have that experience at the end of this year.”

On the Padres’ aggressive offseason: “It was exciting watching what they’re doing. I think it’s good for the game of baseball. They’re being aggressive and going for it, and it’s good to see teams doing that. Now that I’m back with Dodgers, we’re going to get 19 World Series games this year, so it will be a good test for us, a good preparation to get ready for the playoffs.”