Who is he and where did he come from?
He’s Justin Turner, two-time All-Star, ginger beard god, and spreader of COVID. The Red Sox signed him to a one-year contract that pays $8.3 million, with a player option for a second year at $13.4 million
What position does he play?
Well, that’s an interesting question. For most of his career, he’s been a third baseman. But that position is currently filled by a young, power-hitting All-Star (for now, anyway). And last year, Turner played nearly as many games as the Dodgers’ DH as he did as their third baseman. Further, there’s been some idle internet speculation that he could provide some cover at second in the event that Trevor Story starts the year as the full-time shortstop. But that seems like a stretch given that Turner hasn’t played meaningful innings at second base since the first Obama administration, and hasn’t played there at all since 2015. He’s also 38-years-old (more on that below), with all of the physical frailties that come therewith. So in all likelihood, he’s now a DH.
Is he any good?
Well, did you think JD Martinez was good? Because in Justin Turner, the Red Sox have basically acquired JD Martinez, except one who makes more contact and can fill-in competently at the corner infield spots. Turner is sitting on 10 consecutive seasons with an OPS+ above 100. But, like Martinez, his days as an elite bat are behind him. He hit just 13 home runs last year, with his worst slugging percentage in 8 years (.438) and lowest OBP in 5 (.350).
He also looked completely and totally washed for the first three months of 2022, when he slashed just .227/.298/.375 over 70 games. The flip side of that, though, is that he put together a vintage, All-Star caliber second half to balance things out: .340/.412/.514 with 7 homers and 16 doubles in 58 games.
So which Justin Turner will we see next year? It’s impossible to know for sure, but what we do know, is that he’s thirty-freaking-eight years old. Amongst qualified hitters last season, he was the third-oldest position player in all of baseball, behind only Nelson Cruz and Yuli Gurriel. So while it’s possible that he puts up another competent season at the plate with an OBP that plays towards the top end of the lineup and a decent amount of thump, it’s equally possible he falls a sleep in an awkward position on the couch and then loses full range of motion in his neck for the next six weeks — that’s your late-thirties, folks.
Show me a cool highlight.
You’ve probably seen plenty of Justin Turner through the years (he’s played a whopping 86 postseason gams in his career), so here he is on a late night talk show instead. I can’t even think of the last active Red Sox player who was a late-night show (it had be Ortiz, no?) so look at that, he’s bringing something new already.
What’s he doing in his picture up there?
Screaming in pain after stepping on a lego that one of his teammates’ kids left on the field.
What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?
He’ll play DH, mostly, but also spell Devers at third and step in at first if Triston Casas continues to struggle against lefties.