Saturday's MLB: Justin Turner returning to World Series champion Dodgers

Associated Press

Los Angeles — Justin Turner is returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers, announcing via Twitter on Saturday night that he’s ready to “run it back” with the World Series champions after agreeing to a $34 million, two-year deal.

The 36-year-old third baseman batted .307 with four homers, 23 RBIs and an .860 OPS during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

In this Oct. 24, 2020 photo, Los Angeles Dodgers' Justin Turner hits a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game 4 of the baseball World Series in Arlington, Texas.

Turner’s contract includes a club option for a third year that could raise the value to $48 million over three years. He will receive an $8 million signing bonus and can earn up to an additional $4 million in performance bonuses.

The red-headed slugger hit .320 with two homers during the World Series before being pulled from the deciding Game 6 after testing positive for the coronavirus. He infamously broke protocol by returning to the field after the final out and removed his mask near teammates during the celebration. MLB decided against punishing him.

Turner became a free agent when his $64 million, four-year deal with the Dodgers expired after the World Series. He earned a prorated $7,037,037 of his $19 million salary in 2020.

A late-bloomer after overhauling his swing in his late 20s, Turner has been an anchor in the Dodgers’ lineup for most of their eight straight NL West titles. He hit .302 with 116 homers over seven seasons in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are set to bring back essentially the same team that won the 2020 title – along with NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, who signed a $102 million, three-year deal with Los Angeles this week. Adding Bauer and returning Turner gave the Dodgers a splashy finish to an otherwise quiet offseason, cementing the champs as a threat to repeat just days before pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training.

Cabrera, D-backs agree to deal

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal with veteran infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The agreement was reached on Friday and confirmed to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal is pending a physical. Cabrera can earn up to $1.05 million in performance bonuses.

The 35-year-old is a two-time All-Star who was with the Washington Nationals in 2020, batting .242 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in the pandemic-shortened season. Cabrera seems like an ideal fit for the Diamondbacks at second base, which would move the versatile Ketel Marte back to center field.

Marte had a breakout year in 2019 while playing mostly center field but was moved back to primarily second base in 2020.

Cabrera was an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians in 2011 and 2012. He has played all four infield positions during his career and has nearly 1,700 career hits, along with 188 homers.

The Diamondbacks have made a couple of moves over the past few weeks after a quiet offseason. They signed veteran relief pitcher Joakim Soria to a $3.5 million, one-year deal.

Arizona is coming off a disappointing 25-35 record in 2020, which put them last in the NL West.

Tebow invited

Tim Tebow has been invited to big league spring training by the New York Mets, taking one of 75 spots after Major League Baseball limited spring roster sizes as a coronavirus precaution.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to baseball in 2016 for the first time since his junior year of high school and played 77 games at Triple-A in 2019 before the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season.

A lefty-hitting outfielder, the 33-year-old Tebow batted .163 with four homers and 19 RBIs two years ago with Syracuse. He’s been invited to major league spring training each of the past four years and has hit .151 in 34 games, connecting for his first and only homer last spring before camps were closed.

Despite the poor numbers, Tebow was among the 28 nonroster spring invitees announced by New York. The majority of minor league players won’t report to camps until the big leaguers depart for opening day April 1.

Tebow, who also dealt with injuries in 2018 and ‘19, said last spring that he wasn’t ready to give up on his dream of reaching the majors.

“That would obviously be something that would be special, and I think another part of the dream,” Tebow said. “Part of it’s just playing every day and enjoying it and competing, which I love. Obviously, that would be awesome. It would be a lie if I said that wouldn’t be super cool. … But I wouldn’t say it would be a success or failure if that did or did not happen.”

Lugo needs surgery

The Mets’ pitching staff took a hit before the start of spring training when the team announced  that Seth Lugo needs elbow surgery and will miss the start of the season.

An MRI revealed a bone spur in the right-hander’s pitching shoulder. Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek will operate Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Lugo will not throw for six weeks, then will be assessed and transition to a throwing program. That timeline means the earliest he would start to throw would be about opening day on April 1. He will not be game ready until well into the season.

The Mets said a bone spur broke during Lugo’s heightened workouts leading to spring training. Inflammation would not subside, and Lugo recently informed the medical staff.

The 31-year-old Lugo was 3-4 with a 5.15 ERA in seven starts and nine relief appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Around the horn

Right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey, 31, agreed to a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He would get a $1 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster, and would have the chance to earn performance bonuses. The former All-Star with the Mets in 2013 was 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances for the Kansas City Royals last season.

... Pitchers Rich Hill and Collin McHugh have agreed to one-year contracts with the Tampa Bay Rays, a person familiar with the deals told AP.

... Outfielder Jay Bruce agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.