The Red Sox have officially signed infielder Justin Turner to a one-year contract for the 2023 season that includes a player option for 2024, the club announced on Friday. In order to make room for Turner on the 40-man roster, reliever Darwinzon Hernandez was designated for assignment.
Turner agreed to a one-year deal with Boston last month after spending the previous nine seasons with the Dodgers. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the 38-year-old will receive a base salary of $8.3 million in 2023 and will have the chance to earn an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. If Turner exercises his player option, he will lock himself into a $13.4 million salary for 2024. If he declines it, he would receive $6.7 million in the form of a buyout and become a free agent again next winter.
All told, Turner is guaranteed to make at least $15 million in 2023. If he returns via the player option in 2024, the deal would be worth $21.7 million over the next two seasons and would max out at $22.7 million if he hits on his incentive bonuses. For luxury tax purposes, the average annual value of Turner’s contract comes out to $10.85 million, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Turner became a free agent in November after the Dodgers declined his $16 million club option for 2023. In 128 games for Los Angeles last year, the right-handed hitter batted .278/.350/.438 with 36 doubles, 13 home runs, 81 RBIs, 61 runs scored, three stolen bases, 50 walks, and 89 strikeouts over 532 plate appearance. From May 10 through the end of the season, he slashed .306/.388/.488 with 12 homers and 68 runs driven in across 102 games.
In signing with the Red Sox, Turner is expected to take over as the club’s primary designated hitter after J.D. Martinez left for the Dodgers in free agency. The 5-foot-11, 202-pounder 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 base (his natural position) and first base, respectively.
Turner, who does not turn 39 until November, was originally selected by Cincinnati in the seventh round of the 2006 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton. After bouncing around between the Reds, Orioles, and Mets organizations, the Long Beach native found a home with the Dodgers in 2014. During his decorated tenure in Los Angeles, Turner was selected to two All-Star teams (2017 and 2021) and won his first World Series title in 2020. He was also the recipient of the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award.
Hernandez, on the other hand, lost his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster in order to accommodate the addition of Turner. The 26-year-old left-hander was once considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system but has struggled to find his footing on a consistent basis since debuting in 2019.
This past season, Hernandez allowed 16 earned runs over seven appearances (6 2/3 innings) at the major-league level. With Triple-A Worcester, the Venezuelan-born southpaw posted a 5.73 ERA with 51 strikeouts to 27 walks over 23 outings (one start) spanning 33 innings of work. For his big-league career, he owns a lifetime 5.06 ERA in 85 1/3 innings.
Hernandez does not turn 27 until December and still has one minor-league option remaining, so he could be of interest to other teams in need of relief help. With that being said, the Red Sox will have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hernandez and keep him in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.
(Picture of Justin Turner: Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)