Justin Turner intended to stay with the Red Sox after a successful first season with the team. The feeling was not mutual.
“As time went on, it was appearing to be less and less likely,” Turner said Friday. “Right when the season ended, I assumed that it would be a no-brainer, that I would try to work something out and come back.”
Turner instead agreed to a one-year deal worth $13 million with the Toronto Blue Jays. The agreement includes $1.5 million in incentives based on playing time.
“The Blue Jays were one of the first teams that reached out,” Turner said.
At 39, Turner remains a dangerous hitter. He had an .800 OPS, 23 home runs, and 96 RBIs over 146 games last season. Only Rafael Devers played in more games and had more plate appearances for the Sox.
After firing chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom Sept. 14, the Sox waited until Oct. 25 to name his successor, Craig Breslow. By then, Turner had a sense he was on his way out.
“It probably took a little bit longer than they anticipated, and those conversations weren’t able to happen until later,” Turner said. “I just didn’t know what was going to happen with Breslow coming in.”
Turner embraced his time in Boston, traveling around New England with his wife, Kourtney, and getting involved in charitable endeavors.
“It was a blast,” he said. “It was really special to put on that uniform and get to play at Fenway. The city was great. They took me in. We loved it. I enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t have a bad thing to say about Boston.”
The Jays were 89-73 last season before being bounced from the playoffs in the wild-card round. Toronto sees Turner bringing leadership to its roster along with a potent bat.
“The next step is playing deeper in the playoffs,” Turner said. “I can tell you first-hand playoffs are hard, man. It doesn’t matter how talented or how good or how hot you are. I think the playoffs are a crapshoot.”
The Sox purchased catcher Tyler Heineman from the Mets. Righthanded reliever Max Castillo was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Heineman, 32, was designated for assignment by the Mets Tuesday. He is a career .218 hitter over parts of four seasons with the Marlins, Giants, Pirates, and Blue Jays.
A switch hitter, Heineman appeared in 22 major league games last season for Toronto and Pittsburgh and had a .670 OPS in 42 Triple A games.
Heineman joins Reese McGuire and Connor Wong as catchers on the 40-man roster. The team also invited Nathan Hickey, Mark Kolozsvary, Roberto Pérez, and Stephen Scott to spring training.
Castillo, 24, had been claimed off waivers from Kansas City on Jan. 2.