This past week, rumors bounced around about the idea of trading utility-man Justin Turner. It was reported that the Mets would not necessarily shop around Turner, but that they would listen to any offers that came along. On the one hand, trading Turner would make sense for a multitude of reasons, however Turner does offer some value in certain situations.
The Mets may have a legitimate roster crunch. The combination of signing Latroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and Brandon Lyon will take up a lot of roster spots if they all perform well in Spring Training. Since it’s not unlikely that those players will perform well in Spring Training, the Mets will probably need to consider sending some players to the minors. Turner is likely to be one of the players left off the 40-man roster because the Mets have been adamant about having Omar Quintanilla and Brandon Hicks as infield backups. It would be pretty wasteful to have Turner in the minors, considering that the Mets would have to pay him pretty close to the Major League price.
Considering that the Mets outfield has a lot of problems, trading Turner for another outfielder is plausible. Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is obviously not going to get a lot in return for Turner because he is a replacement-level infielder who derives most of his value from his flexibility in the infield. Offensively, Turner doesn’t offer much — he’s a low-power, low-OBP type of player. However, a replacement-level outfielder for Turner is plausible. A replacement-level outfielder may not provide a lot of offensive value, but if he’s a good enough outfielder, he could potentially help alleviate Lucas Duda’s horrible fielding in the outfield.
The thing the Mets might miss if they trade Turner is that he does provide a lot of flexibility. He mainly plays second and third base, however he can play short and first base if the situation arises. That’s something that can be taken for granted if an injury arises. Reports from Spring Training have also stated that Turner has been working out in the outfield, which will increase his value and add flexibility. Even though his defense in the outfield will probably mirror something similar to Lucas Duda, the Mets need all the help in the outfield they can get.
Turner does have some legitimate value that derives from his ability to play many positions, and his bat for a utility man is not too shabby. In 263 plate appearances for the Mets, Turner hit a line of .269/.319/.392. This line would probably not have a lot of value for an everyday player, but there’s something to be said for a utility man who can hit well above the Mendoza line.
Alderson has two options when it comes to trading Turner. If the four relievers that he signed can provide some value for the bullpen, then Alderson should probably flip Turner for some sort of fringe outfielder who can help alleviate defensive troubles in the outfield. However, the other option would be that if the four relievers don’t work out, Alderson should hold onto Turner. Considering that he’s a utility man who can for the most part play any infield position, Turner could prove valuable in the event that one of the starters goes down. Yet, what sets Turner apart is that he can hit better than most utility guys, making it better to keep him if the Mets have space for him.