Report: Rangers, Mariners engaged in Cliff Lee talks

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Industry sources told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that trade talks between the Rangers and Mariners regarding left-hander Cliff Lee “appear to be heating up.”
Sullivan, however, goes right on to say that nothing is imminent.
The Rangers are in a difficult position when it comes to making trades. With bankruptcy proceedings ongoing and ownership still up in the air, the team might not be able to take on additional cash in a trade.
However, that might not put a halt to talks here. The Mariners are far from desperate for cash and Lee, a free agent-to-be, only has about $4 million left on his contract. If it means getting extra talent in return, the Mariners will likely be open to picking up his salary in a deal.
I speculated last month on some of the possibilities to be included in a potential Roy Oswalt-to-Texas deal. Many of the same names could be in play here. The Mariners may hold out for first baseman Justin Smoak, which could be a dealbreaker. The Rangers have a wealth of young arms to barter with, but the Mariners are believed to be more focused on adding position players. The Twins appear to match up better with them in that department.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.