Justin Turner reportedly staying in AL East as Red Sox whiff in free agency again

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Former Boston Red Sox slugger Justin Turner will be heading north of the border to play for an American League East rival, per MLB insider Jon Morosi.

Turner, an instant fan-favorite in Boston, declined his player option for the 2024 season and will be playing for the Blue Jays on a one-year, $13 million deal.

The veteran infielder is headed into his age-39 season after hitting .276/.345/.455 in Boston, where he also belted 23 home runs and ranked in the 91st percentile in whiff rate.

After down seasons from Matt Chapman and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. last season, Toronto's lineup was desperate for a consistent, powerful bat. Despite being right-handed in a batting order heavy on righties, Turner's consistency and good eye will slot in nicely among the sluggers the Jays were already working with.

And consistency is key to Turner's game. He's a career .288 hitter over his 15 years in MLB.

Turner also offers much defensive flexibility. He spent time at first, second and third base for the Red Sox last season, though he may be better suited to Toronto's designated hitter spot at this stage in his career.

If Toronto doesn't opt to bring back Chapman to play third, Turner could absorb his spot in the infield, alongside former Yankee Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and more than make up for both of their production in the batting order. He could also easily play first on Guerrero's days off and offer him some additional reprieve.

Former Red Sox Justin Turner will play with the Blue Jays in 2024

At the beginning of the offseason, there was mutual interest between Turner and the Red Sox to organize a return to Boston — Turner went as far as having a meeting with Craig Breslow the day after he was hired as the Sox's new chief baseball offer.

But a deal never materialized. Maybe because Turner saw the direction in which the front office was taking the Red Sox, or they simply because didn't offer the 15-year veteran enough money.

Regardless, the Red Sox clubhouse is going to miss Turner's presence this season, on the field, in the batting order and beyond. And it'll sting even more seeing him play in the division for a price Boston definitely could afford.

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