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Giants ‘open-minded’ on Justin Turner

Here’s how the Giants can improve and poke the Dodgers in the eye at the same time.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Giants have a spot open in left field. It’s a clear, obvious opening, and it makes sense for them to focus on adding an outfielder. They’ll focus on the bullpen and consider fifth starters, but their other main priority is to get an outfielder. Simple.

But what if ...

  1. They don’t have a problem with Eduardo Nuñez floating around the diamond, playing some outfield (where he has just a couple dozen games of experience)?
  2. They’re building a roster with the inevitable injury problems in mind?

Can be one or both. Suddenly Nuñez isn’t just a starting third baseman, but he’s something between an important piece of the roster and a general backup plan.

That’s how this rumor starts to make sense:

Turner isn’t the perfect free agent target. He’ll be 32 next year, which makes a long-term deal risky. He seems like the perfect example of paying for past performance rather than expected performance. He has reverse platoon splits, struggling mightily against left-handed pitching, which is a problem for a lineup counting on Denard Span, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Joe Panik. And he happens to play a position that’s already filled, if tentatively, with a short-term, inexpensive, and worthwhile player.

But Turner would make the Giants better next year, and his defection would make the Dodgers worse. That’s a combination that will always turn me into the thinking-face emoji.

It’s not the first way I would improve the roster. There just aren’t enough free-agent hitters to think that Turner will somehow be a bargain, especially not with the Dodgers chasing him. Yet he sure does represent right-handed power, which is something the Giants are desperate for. He hit 27 homers last year, or 10 more than the Giants’ top home run hitter.

The question is how long and how much? If Turner will go for a three-year deal, the Giants can anticipate that he’ll be the same player for the early part of the deal, decline in the middle, and be an anticipated liability at the end, which is how most free agent contracts are structured. A four-year deal, though? Dicey.

The market is soft enough for Turner to get five. And don’t forget the Giants are competing with the Dodgers, who will have a ton of money to spend. This probably isn’t the most realistic rumor. It’s merely a fun one.

Boy, what I wouldn’t give for Turner being just three years younger, though. And what I wouldn’t give for him and Hunter Pence to collide at a very low, safe speed and combine to form a humongous tribble. As is, Turner is a free agent with a few risks and a steep asking price, and it would make sense for the Giants to look elsewhere.

When a player can make them better and the Dodgers worse at the same time, though, it’s at least logical enough to look into.