The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran infielder Justin Turner for the 2023 season, as was first reported by ESPN’s Joon Lee and Jeff Passan. The deal comes with a player option for 2024 as well.
According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Turner will receive $8.3 million in 2023 and would be in line to earn $13.4 million in 2024 if he exercises his player option.
Turner, 38, became a free agent last month after the Dodgers declined his $16 million club option for 2023. The right-handed hitter is coming off a 2022 campaign in which he batted .278/.350/.438 with 36 doubles, 13 home runs, 81 RBIs, 61 runs scored, three stolen bases, 50 walks, and 89 strikeouts over 128 games (532 plate appearances) for Los Angeles.
After an 0-for-3 showing against the Pirates on May 9 of this year, Turner found himself slashing just .168/.226/.242 with five extra-base hits through his first 26 games of the season. From May 10 onward, though, he turned a corner offensively and hit a stout .306/.380/.488 with 32 doubles, 12 homers, 68 RBIs, and 52 runs scored across 102 games (426 plate appearances) to close out the season.
A native of Long Beach, Turner was originally selected by the Reds in the seventh round of the 2006 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton. He was traded to the Orioles in December 2008 and then made his big-league debut with Baltimore the following September. Turner appeared in a total of just 17 games for the O’s before being claimed off waivers by the Mets in May 2010.
In parts of four seasons (2010-2013) with New York, Turner compiled a .267/.327/.371 slash line in 297 games while serving as a utility infielder. He was non-tendered by the Mets in Dec. 2013 and was a highly sought-after minor-league free agent. The Red Sox, then under general manager Ben Cherington, made a push to sign Turner, who ultimately inked a minors pact with his hometown Dodgers.
The rest, as they say, is history. Turner gradually emerged as one of the top third baseman in the National League in his time with Los Angeles. Over nine seasons and 1,075 games in a Dodgers uniform, Turner slashed .296/.375/.490 with 235 doubles, seven triples, 156 home runs, 574 RBIs, 568 runs scored, 33 stolen bases, 398 walks, and just 647 strikeouts across 4,220 trips to the plate. He was an All-Star in 2017 and 2021 and played a key role in the Dodgers’ triumph over the Rays in the 2020 World Series.
Defensively, Turner regularly served as the Dodgers’ everyday third baseman in his decorated tenure with the club. This past season, however, the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder made 62 appearances at designated hitter and posted a .729 OPS in that role. While patrolling the hot corner, he accrued one defensive run saved and was worth negative-two outs above average over 574 1/3 innings at the position.
Off the field, Turner is known for his charitable work. He has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award on five separate occasions and took home Major League Baseball’s most prestigious individual honor for the first time last month. Turner and his wife, Kourtney, founded the Justin Turner Foundation in 2016 to help support homeless veterans, children (and their families) battling life-altering illnesses, and various youth baseball organizations.
By agreeing to a deal with the Red Sox, Turner is now reunited with former Dodgers teammates Enrique Hernandez, Alex Verdugo, Kenley Jansen, and Chris Martin in Boston. With 14 years of major-league experience under his belt, Turner brings with him a disciplined approach, a swing that is suited for Fenway Park, and valuable leadership skills.
Given that he turns 39 next November, there will probably be some concerns regarding Turner’s durability. He was sidelined for a week back in August due to an abdominal strain and has also dealt with hamstring issues in the past. With that in mind, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. likely view Turner as the team’s primary designated hitter in 2023 following the departure of J.D. Martinez in free agency. He could also serve as a right-handed hitting complement to Rafael Devers and Triston Casas — who both hit from the left side of the plate) at third and first base, respectively.
Turner becomes the second key position player Boston has added in free agency this winter, as he joins the likes of Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida. The Red Sox are not done when it comes to making offseason additions, though, as they are still looking to upgrade at multiple positions.
(Picture of Justin Turner: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)