Justin Turner-Blue Jays deal might’ve paved way for Red Sox with better free agent

The Red Sox still have time to make a move.

Aug 22, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Miami Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler (12) hits a
Aug 22, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Miami Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler (12) hits a / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The number of impact bats on the free agent market is ticking lower and lower, and spring training is just weeks away.

After suggesting he may be open to a reunion at the beginning of the offseason and then changing his mind, Justin Turner is off to Toronto to play for an American League East rival. And after seeing how this offseason went in Boston, no one can blame him.

But Turner signing elsewhere leaves the door wide open for the Red Sox to sign a stronger bat and an overall better option for the roster: Jorge Soler.

It was reported that Toronto was one of the top contenders for Soler's services in 2024, and while it's still possible they sign him, their acquisition of Turner makes it much more likely that Soler is destined to play most of his games in the United States.

Signing Jorge Soler would instantly make the Red Sox more competitive

Admittedly, Turner offers some things that Soler doesn't. Turner was an immediate fan-favorite in Boston with his 2013 World Series-esque beard and great leadership skills. Even after 15 years in the majors, Turner is still one of the most consistent hitters in the league — he batted .276 with 23 homers in his age-38 season, and his whiff percentage was strikingly low at 17.5%, placing him in the 91st percentile among all qualified hitters.

But Soler is an outfielder and a bonafide slugger, two things the Sox desperately need on the roster before the season starts.

The righty hit 36 homers last season with 77 runs scored and 75 RBIs. Soler batted .250 and he strikes out considerably more than Turner, but his power more than makes up for the deficiency.

Soler's fielding leaves much to be desired, however. His arm strength is just higher than the league average and his sprint speed isn't impressive, meaning he could only play left field at Fenway Park. His defensive stats closely mirror those of the Red Sox's other left-field option, Masataka Yoshida. If Boston makes the move to sign Soler, the two could split their starts between left field and designated hitter, giving them both much-needed reprieve from defending to keep their bats hot.

While Soler is the Red Sox's best option on the market for now, a reunion with Adam Duvall is still a possibility. It's being reported the outfielder will choose between the Sox and the Angels as his 2024 destination, but there has been little news about Duvall's market since MLB insider and New York Post columnist Jon Heyman announced the bidding war on Jan. 18.

If the Sox prefer Soler to Duvall — which they likely don't because he costs more money — they need to act soon. The high-spending Mets have also been named as top contenders for the slugger, and Steve Cohen's checkbook isn't easily beaten.

Soler would be an ideal fit for Boston's roster and his bat would instantly make the team more competitive, which is what the front office has said it wants all winter.

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