Justin Turner made Boston his offseason home, at least through November.
Turner and his wife, Kourtney, enjoyed their experience in New England despite the year ending with the Red Sox finishing last in the American League East for a second straight season. So, they decided to extend their lease an extra month, even though most of their ties are to the West Coast.
Turner, who dealt with a heel-bone bruise toward the end of the season, still goes to Fenway Park to receive treatment. Boston, in some regard, has become the Turner family’s home.
But for how much longer is uncertain.
Turner officially opted out of his deal last week — which came with a $6.7 million buyout — and is now a free agent.
The Red Sox are under new management, with Craig Breslow taking over chief baseball officer duties. With a new voice often comes new players.
Still Turner, who voiced that he would like to return to the Red Sox at season’s end, echoed those same feelings Friday evening prior to Pedro Martinez’s seventh annual Pedro Martinez Foundation Gala, which both Turners attended. But he understands the reality, too — which perhaps means he won’t be in a Sox uniform next year.
“I think over the years, I kind of learned my lesson from hoping and trying to get what I want. But obviously the time that we’ve spent here, we’ve absolutely loved it,” said Turner. “And the city’s been really really fantastic to us. Being able to put a Red Sox jersey on and call it home has been something, honestly, I didn’t even imagine it would happen in my career, but I’m so glad it did.”
Turner said he has spoken to Breslow. In fact, he met with the Sox’ new leader inside the Fenway clubhouse just a day after Breslow’s introductory press conference. The two spoke for roughly an hour, Turner said. But he noted most of it was informal, with Breslow trying to get caught up on everything pertaining to the club.
Now, Breslow has a bit more understanding, and mentioned at the General Managers Meetings this week that he would ideally like for the DH role — a role where Turner helped steer the offense this year — to be a position that’s used interchangeably. Turner can still play some third base but, obviously, that’s Rafael Devers’s position. If the Sox and Breslow do, in fact, go that route, re-signing Turner might be a stretch.
“Once Breslow and the rest of the front office figure out what they want to do or what direction they want to go, hopefully I’m a part of that and I’m back in a Red Sox jersey,” Turner said. “But there’s always that unknown when a new front office comes in.
“From what I’ve heard from all these guys, Pedro included, is how amazing this town is when you’re making a playoff run, and we got a small taste of it with the Bruins and with the Celtics last year. But I want to be a part of that.”
Two votes for more arms
Martinez and Jason Varitek know a thing or two about pitching. And the hope is that Breslow will amplify the pitching staff as much as possible, a struggle for the Sox in 2023.
“I would think we [would add],” said Varitek Friday night. “We have some really good core components that are going to be helpful, and whatever roles they are in. But I’ve said it for 100 years, I believe in pitching.”
Who would Martinez like for the Red Sox to acquire?
“Everybody that’s good, so we can kick everybody’s butts,” he said.
The Sox, in some fashion, have been linked to Japanese starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto. While electric, some evaluations question his size. He’s listed at just 5-foot-10.
Martinez, however, is considered arguably the greatest righthanded starter of all time, and is just an inch taller than Yamamoto.
“Don’t tell me about height,” said Martinez. “Give me as many pitchers as you can, and as much help as you can, and I’ll be totally happy with that.”
A worthy cause
The Gala raised funds for children and families supported by the Martinez’s foundation which Martinez’s wife, Carolina, helps to run. Every cent of the profits via donations will go straight to kids in Latin America and the United States.
Including Turner and Varitek, players such as the Brewers’ Willy Adames, Rangers reliever Aroldis Chapman, and now-former Red Sox hurler Corey Kluber were among some of Martinez’s countless supporters and guests.
“It means celebration,” said Carolina, “and this means gratefulness. It means that we have people behind us that believe in what we do.”