A longtime Dodgers mainstay is close to joining the Red Sox.
According to multiple major league sources, the Sox reached agreement with veteran Justin Turner on a one-year, $8.3 million contract that includes a 2024 player option at $13.4 million. The deal adds a two-time All-Star to the Red Sox lineup in the form of a player who can move between both corner infield spots and designated hitter, serving as both a righthanded complement to rookie Triston Casas at first base as well as a player who can spell Rafael Devers at third.
Much like former Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez — who agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers on Saturday — Turner transformed his swing and career after the 2013 season. He overhauled his swing from one that was contact-oriented to one that was intended to pull the ball in the air.
The Red Sox were nearly the beneficiaries, as Turner had all but put his name on the dotted line of a minor league deal with the club during the 2013-14 offseason after the New York Mets let him reach free agency, but Los Angeles swooped in with a big league offer, and Turner, a Southern California native, jumped at it. That pairing proved a spectacular one, as Turner hit .296/.375/.490 with a 133 OPS+ — 100 is league average — over the next nine seasons, serving as both a lineup and clubhouse anchor during perennial championship contention.
After a rough start to 2022, Turner re-established himself as a force down the stretch. He hit .278/.350/.438 (116 OPS+) last season, including a .319/.384/.503 line in the last two months.
Turner has a number of attributes that fit what the Red Sox had been seeking for their lineup. He puts the ball in play (16.7 percent strikeout rate in 2022), takes walks with a disciplined approach, typically drives the ball to both the pull side in left field as well as to center, doesn’t require the sacrifice of draft picks (he was ineligible for a qualifying offer from Los Angeles, thus meaning the Sox don’t have to part with picks or international bonus pool money for signing him), and at 38, didn’t require a long-term deal. He’s also regarded highly as a veteran leader.
The additions of Turner (9.4 percent walk rate, .350 on-base in 2022) and Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida (.449 OBP and 15.9 percent walk rate for Orix in the NPB last year) represent a concerted attempt to alter the lineup dynamic of a Sox team that finished 2022 with a 7.8 percent walk rate (18th in MLB) while chasing 33.6 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (11th highest).
Turner also continues the migration of former Dodgers to Boston, in an offseason that has also seen the Red Sox acquire closer Kenley Jansen, who played with Turner from 2014-21, as well as righthander Chris Martin, who finished 2022 with Los Angeles. That trio joins Kiké Hernández, who re-signed with the Sox on a one-year, $10 million deal in September and played with Turner and Jensen from 2015-20, their final season together ending with a World Series championship.
Even so, the addition of plate discipline from the team’s left field/corner infielder/DH spots still leaves unaddressed items on the Sox’ shopping list. The team still is looking to add a starting pitcher — a run on mid- to back-end free-agent starters is expected over the next week and Corey Kluber, for instance, expects to sign in that timeframe — while also seeking a middle-of-the-field player (center fielder, shortstop, or second baseman) to slot with Hernández and Trevor Story and help the team move forward in the wake of Xander Bogaerts’ departure.
Alex Speier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.