Justin Turner is officially a member of the Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox formerly introduced Justin Turner as the newest addition to their roster on Friday. The veteran free agent has signed a one-year deal with a player option for 2024. To make room for Turner on the 40-man roster, Boston designated left-handed pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment.
According to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, Turner will receive a base salary of $8.3 million in 2023 and can earn up to $1 million more in performance bonuses. The 2024 option is worth $13.4 million and comes with a $6.7 million buyout. As long as Turner remains healthy and relatively productive, he’s likely to opt out, which would essentially make this contract worth $15 million guaranteed for one season.
During his introductory press conference, Turner revealed that he “got recruited heavily” by a number of current and former Red Sox. Among those luring him to Boston was his former teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kiké Hernández.
Hernández, who has spent his last two seasons with the Red Sox, joined the Dodgers in 2015, one year after Turner signed with Los Angeles after he had been non-tendered by the New York Mets. The pair spent six seasons together in Los Angeles so Hernández is well aware of what Turner can bring to Boston.
The Red Sox might not be viewed as a strong contender for the postseason but if they do make a surprise playoff run, Turner’s experience will be beneficial. Turner has played in each of the last nine postseasons with Los Angeles. He’s the Dodgers’ all-time leader in postseason games (86), runs (43), hits (85), doubles (19), home runs (tied, 13), and RBI (42).
Turner hit .278 with a .788 OPS, 13 home runs, and 81 RBI in 128 games for the Dodgers last season. While his numbers were down from his peak level, he finished the season with a strong second half, hitting .319 with a .889 OPS over his last 44 games.
His 116 OPS+ was almost identical to the 117 OPS+ produced by J.D. Martinez, the player Turner is essentially swapping spots with after Martinez signed with the Dodgers in free agency.
The majority of Turner’s playing time will come from the designated hitter role vacated by the departure of Martinez. He’s also expecting to play some first base, providing a right-handed bat to compliment rookie Triston Casas. Turner has primarily played third base in his career but he’s hoping he won’t be manning the hot corner too often next season due to the presence of Rafael Devers.
Turner’s tendency to pull the ball in the air makes him a great fit for Fenway Park where he can target the Green Monster in left field. We can envision some of the warning track flyouts he hit in Los Angeles turning into doubles off the wall at Fenway. He’s only played five games in this ballpark but he’s a career .294 hitter with a .941 OPS in a limited sample at Fenway.
Turner indicated that he received offers from four teams, including the Red Sox and Dodgers. Once the Dodgers signed Martinez to take them out of contention, Boston’s chances dramatically improved.
Credit Hernández for stepping up with the recruiting pitch to help seal the deal. Alex Verdugo is another former Dodger on the Red Sox roster, along with relievers Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen, who both signed with Boston in free agency this winter. It’s unclear if any of them played a role in recruiting Turner, although his words imply there was more than one current Red Sox player who reached out to him. Either way, there will be plenty of familiar faces when Turner walks into the clubhouse this spring.