The Nationals are still in the mix for Carl Pavano

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The Cubs and Rangers may have jumped ahead of the Nationals for Brandon Webb, but Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the club remains interested in Carl Pavano.

Pavano, who turns 35 in January, is considered by many to be the best free agent starting pitcher left on the market. He went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and 117/37 K/BB ratio over 32 starts with the Twins this past season, topping 200 innings for the first time since he won 18 games in 2004.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com opined yesterday that the Twins regained some leverage in their efforts to re-sign Pavano after Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers (a potential suitor), but it won’t be so easy as long as teams like the Nationals and Rangers are still looking for pitching. In fact, Ladson hears from a source that the Nats spoke with Pavano’s people just yesterday.

There has been a reluctance among teams to give Pavano more than two years thus far, and that makes sense given his injury history, but the first team willing to go three years at over $10 million per season will probably get him. As we have already learned this winter, don’t sleep on those Nats.

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.