Red Sox officially ink veteran INF Justin Turner

January 6th, 2023

The Red Sox added a gritty run producer to their lineup, signing free agent , the club announced on Friday. Turner's deal is for one year and includes a player option for 2024. To make room for Turner on the 40-man roster, Boston designated left-handed pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment.

It was no secret the Red Sox were looking for a right-handed bat after losing Xander Bogaerts (Padres) and J.D. Martinez (Dodgers) in free agency.

The 38-year-old Turner split his time between third base and designated hitter last season. Given the presence of star slugger Rafael Devers at the hot corner for Boston, Turner will likely get the majority of his at-bats at DH with the Red Sox.

However, Turner also could get some reps at first base, a position where he has made 25 career starts. Rookie Triston Casas, a left-handed hitter, is projected to be Boston’s starting first baseman. Turner could see time at first against some lefties.

The Red Sox now have three players from the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers on their squad, with Turner joining utility man Kiké Hernández and closer Kenley Jansen. Alex Verdugo and Chris Martin are also former Dodgers. Hernández took to Twitter to express his excitement about reuniting with his former teammate.

Turner joins Japanese import Masataka Yoshida -- who was introduced at a press conference -- as the second key bat the Red Sox have added this offseason.

Expect chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to add one or two more hitters before the season starts. The Red Sox are still seeking a middle-infield bat to replace Bogaerts, and the club is open to upgrading at catcher. 

At Fenway Park, with the inviting Green Monster just 310 feet from home plate, Turner’s ability to pull the ball should be rewarded.

Turner began the 2022 season slowly, batting just .168/.226/.242 with one home run through his first 26 games. While that performance raised questions about whether the veteran was experiencing a steep decline at age 37, he quickly turned things around.

Over his final 102 games beginning May 10, Turner slashed .306/.380/.488 with 12 homers, 32 doubles and 68 RBIs. That .868 OPS ranked 13th among Major League qualifiers over that span, putting Turner just behind Austin Riley and Pete Alonso and ahead of Carlos Correa and Nolan Arenado.

Nonetheless, the Dodgers declined Turner’s $16 million club option for 2023, instead paying him a $2 million buyout.

After serving as the Dodgers’ primary third baseman for the past several seasons, Turner started only 66 games at the hot corner in 2022, while starting 61 at DH. He has -1 Outs Above Average at third since 2020, and his arm strength ranked in the 28th percentile this season, per Statcast.

A 14-year veteran, Turner first signed with the Dodgers in February 2014, after the Mets non-tendered him following a four-season stint in Queens. With a remade swing, Turner quickly became an integral piece with his new club. His 133 OPS+ ranks fifth in Los Angeles Dodgers history (minimum 2,000 plate appearances).

Andrew Simon contributed to this report.