Hot-corner help: Finding the best fit for Turner

Free-agent class is thin at third base, but there aren't many obvious suitors

Hot-corner help: Finding the best fit for Turner

After three strong seasons with the Dodgers, Justin Turner is the top free agent available this offseason, according to the projection system that MLB.com analytics guru Tom Tango devised based on wins above replacement (WAR).

But Turner's place on the Hot Stove is interesting for reasons beyond his production, and that's due to a pair of competing factors. On one hand, this free-agent class is thin at the hot corner -- leaving Turner with little competition, other than from potential trade chips. On the other hand, few teams appear to have both a hole at the position and the means to land him.

Hot Stove Tracker

In other words, while Turner certainly deserves a bidding war, it's unclear how many clubs will enter the fray.

To get a handle on the market for Turner, who will turn 32 on Wednesday, here is a look at both this offseason's third-base options and the teams that appear to be the best fits for his services.

Free agents

Turner (projected 2017 WAR: 3.5)
From 2014-16, his 138 weighted runs created-plus (wRC+) ranked 18th among all big leaguers with at least 1,000 plate appearances. Over the same span, he collected 18 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at third.

Turner's two-homer game

Luis Valbuena (projected 2017 WAR: 1.8)
On the plus side, Valbuena posted a 115 wRC+ over the past three seasons, showcasing patience and power. Yet, he also missed the final two months of 2016 with a hamstring injury and is limited against left-handed pitching.

Trevor Plouffe (projected 2017 WAR: 1.1)
The Twins waived Plouffe rather than go through arbitration, which would have resulted in a raise from his 2016 salary of $7.25 million. The 30-year-old hits lefties well and was a solid starter over the previous two years (6.5 WAR), but took a step back in '16 while going on the disabled list three times.

Aaron Hill (projected 2017 WAR: 0.1)
Following two rough offensive seasons, Hill hit .283/.359/.421 in 78 games for the Brewers this year, but his production collapsed again after a July trade to Boston. Hill, who can also play some second base, will turn 35 in March.

Kelly Johnson (projected 2017 WAR: 0.0)
Over the past three seasons, Johnson has played six positions -- including 93 games at third. Upon rejoining the Mets in June, he reportedly made some Daniel Murphy-inspired adjustments at the plate and hit .268/.328/.459 with nine homers the rest of the way.

Others: Adam Rosales made 24 starts at third and had a career year offensively for San Diego. ... After three solid seasons, Juan Uribe struggled and was released by Cleveland in August. ... Sean Rodriguez has started 16 times at third in the past three seasons and is more valuable for his ability to play all over the field.

Trade possibilities

Earlier this month, MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported the Rays will consider offers for Evan Longoria. Still, the odds would seem to be strongly against Tampa Bay trading its franchise player, who is coming off a strong season and is owed at least $99 million through 2022.

Cash on Longoria's Rays future

Meanwhile, recent reports from FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal have indicated that Todd Frazier of the White Sox, Yangervis Solarte of the Padres and Chase Headley of the Yankees could also be moved this offseason. Frazier has one year of arbitration remaining before reaching free agency, while Solarte won't hit the market for three more years. Headley, who rebounded from an extremely slow start in 2016, is due $26 million over the next two seasons, at ages 33-34.

Fits for Turner

Here are the clubs that make the most sense for Turner, whom MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette has projected to receive a four-year contract at upwards of $15 million per season.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
After Turner unsurprisingly rejected the team's $17.2 million qualifying offer, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman referred to both him and closer Kenley Jansen as being "very high on our list." Even though L.A. would receive a compensatory Draft pick if Turner signs elsewhere, there is plenty of incentive (and money) to keep him. The Dodgers don't appear to have a good in-house option at the hot corner -- especially after trading away Howie Kendrick, who played 17 games there last season.

Will Dodgers retain key pieces?

2. San Francisco Giants
With Jansen and Turner available, San Francisco has two opportunities to sign a major free agent away from its division rival. Although general manager Bobby Evans recently suggested that he is happy with Eduardo Nunez at third, signing Turner could push Nunez -- who also has experience at shortstop, second base and the outfield -- into a super-utility role. It also would provide extra insurance in case of an injury to another infielder.

3. Los Angeles Angels
The Halos already picked up Yunel Escobar's club option for 2017. But while Escobar has swung the bat well, DRS has him at -22 runs in the past two years -- last among qualifying third basemen. The Nationals did put him at second base two Spring Trainings ago before an injury to Anthony Rendon forced a move to third. It could be worth it for the Angels to take another shot at that experiment, while also signing Turner.

4. Atlanta Braves
If Atlanta makes a splashy move this offseason, it could come in the form of a starting pitcher or even a catcher. But what about third base? Adonis Garcia will turn 32 in April and has a 95 wRC+ and 0.9 WAR over 192 career games, so Turner would represent an upgrade. The question is whether the timing is really right for such a match. But, like the Angels, the Braves have the benefit of a protected Top 10 first-round pick.

5. Mystery team
Never discount the chance of an unexpected club swooping in for a big signing. While there aren't many obvious fits for Turner, a trade or some other change to the landscape could always open up another opportunity.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.