After nine years, two All-Star selections and a World Series title, Justin Turner’s tenure with the Dodgers appears to be ending.
A month after having a team option in his contract for 2023 declined and becoming a free agent, the veteran infielder agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox for two years and about $22 million, with an opt-out after next year, according to multiple reports.
Once finalized, it will mark the latest notable departure this offseason for the Dodgers, who have also seen Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, Tyler Anderson and several other contributors from last season’s 111-win team depart in free agency.
Though Turner and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman voiced interest in a reunion this winter — even after Turner’s $16-million option was declined after the season — the chances of Turner returning to Los Angeles appeared to be declining in recent days.
The Dodgers had made a string of one-year signings that pushed their payroll for next season to about $210 million — inching closer to the $233-million luxury tax threshold that Turner told 570 AM had been impacting his negotiations with the team.
The Dodgers’ latest move, a one-year deal for J.D. Martinez on Saturday, also gave them a player with a similar skill set to Turner’s — a veteran right-handed bat capable of serving as designated hitter.
Even if Turner had come back to the Dodgers, his role probably would have been altered.
One of the club’s top prospects, Miguel Vargas, looks primed to play regularly at third base. And after Turner split time between third and DH last year, it’s likely even more of his at-bats next season would have come as the latter.
What was unclear at the start of free agency was whether Turner would get the multi-year deal he was seeking after a productive 2022 campaign in which he batted .278 with 13 home runs and 81 RBIs.
Earlier this winter, the Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks had reportedly shown interest in him.
But after Martinez’s departure from Boston a day earlier, the Red Sox pivoted to Turner, wooing the Lakewood native and Cal State Fullerton product from his hometown team with the type of offer the Dodgers were always going to be unlikely to meet.