Justin Turner, the longtime Dodgers stalwart and type of man who makes you marvel when “skilled hitter” stopped being a baseball idiom in widespread utilization, has a brand new gig. After one season in Boston — reasonably profitable for him, much less so for his crew — Turner is shifting west to Toronto, the place he’ll make $13 million this season, with the prospect to earn a further $1.5 million in bonuses and incentives.
Now, when you’re something like me, you most likely noticed the information that Turner could be sharing an infield (and/or a DH spot) with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and thought, “Wait, didn’t Turner give you the Orioles across the similar time Guerrero père was winding down his profession there?” And certain sufficient, he did. However Turner isn’t simply so outdated he performed along with his new teammate’s dad. He’s so outdated he performed 4 years of school, bought drafted, spent three seasons within the minors, performed components of two seasons within the majors with the Orioles, and bought traded away earlier than his new teammate’s dad even bought there.
Turner simply turned 39, which remains to be 39 years outdated in Canada after you account for the trade fee. I checked. That’s comparatively younger for somebody who spent their younger maturity engaged on a humanities PhD whereas all their buddies have been beginning households and getting established professionally. (You’ve nonetheless bought your entire life forward of you! I consider in you!) However it’s outdated for a ballplayer. Significantly a ballplayer on a contract that signifies he’s meant to be a key contributor on a playoff crew.
Turner is so outdated he performed his faculty baseball on the identical Cal State Fullerton crew as Chad Cordero. Collectively, they (together with Ricky Romero, for these Blue Jays followers who’re studying this and needed to recollect some guys) made it to the 2003 Faculty World Sequence. Listed here are some choose gamers they encountered within the NCAA Match that 12 months.
Some Gamers Justin Turner Encountered En Path to the 2003 Faculty World Sequence
Sure, that’s Sam Fuld, who’s at the moment getting into his fourth season as an MLB GM. And Brian Wilson, who launched the baseball world to beard dye and bondage gear an astounding 13 years in the past.
After all, if Turner weren’t sufficiently old to have frequently used a transportable cassette participant, he wouldn’t have been obtainable to the Blue Jays for less than $13 million. In his early 30s, Turner was a daily 140 or 150 wRC+ man, legitimately among the finest hitters in baseball.
In 2023, he hit .276/.345/.455, which is a wRC+ of 114. Being a right-handed hitter and taking part in his residence video games at Fenway Park, you would possibly assume his offensive setting flattered him a bit. Not so: Turner had a 116 wRC+ on the highway and a 113 wRC+ at residence. He additionally crushed left-handed pitching, to the tune of .285/.372/.528, which is a wRC+ of 142. Turner, although, is clearly not going to be a short-side platoon bat. Between Guerrero, Springer, Bo Bichette, Alejandro Kirk, and what the hell, let’s throw Danny Jansen and Davis Schneider in there too, you would argue that Toronto’s six greatest returning hitters are all right-handed anyway. Not that being heavily right-handed has ever bothered Toronto before.
Turner’s bat has been slipping for the previous 4 years or so — each when it comes to outcomes and when it comes to high quality of contact — however he was ranging from such a excessive customary he nonetheless has a methods to fall earlier than he’s not helpful.
Justin Turner, Previous 5 Years
SOURCE: Baseball Savant
Offensively, a participant like Turner goes to maintain hitting till he will get so outdated his bat slows down. And that would occur step by step — because it appears to be doing — or it may all collapse directly. If you happen to went out on the lookout for a worrying signal, I’d level to his efficiency towards four-seamers, which was beneath common in 2023 for the primary time since Baseball Savant began maintaining monitor of these stats. In opposition to velocity particularly, Turner isn’t pretty much as good as he was 5 years in the past, however that too appears to be a gradual decline.
Justin Turner vs. 95-Plus mph
SOURCE: Baseball Savant
Grading Turner on offensive potential alone, getting him for between $13 million and $14.5 million on a one-year deal is okay. I’d most likely slightly have Rhys Hoskins, Jeimer Candelario, or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. at their respective AAVs, although these gamers all bought multi-year ensures. So did Mitch Garver, who would’ve carried a further inconvenience for Toronto: Particularly that the Blue Jays want one other bat-first catcher like they want a poke within the eye.
What Turner presents is the power to contribute defensively in a manner that Hoskins and Gurriel can’t. Toronto is about at catcher, at DH, and within the outfield, however has holes at second and third base, two positions Turner performed for Boston final 12 months.
Would you like Turner to play there? Um, no. He’s one of many slowest gamers in baseball, and his superior defensive metrics are so unhealthy I wish to apologize for the issues I thought of Jorge Polanco’s glovework when news of his trade to Seattle broke on Monday night. However I suppose you’ll be able to hand Turner a glove and put him on the dust if you wish to badly sufficient.
Between Turner, Schneider, Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Blue Jays can most likely cobble one thing collectively. John Madden as soon as stated, “If in case you have two quarterbacks, you even have none.” However the nice man stated nothing about what occurs when you will have 5 third basemen.
Signing Turner, it bears mentioning, takes the Blue Jays over the payroll determine they landed finally 12 months, and again into the realm of the aggressive stability tax for a second consecutive season. Out of context, Turner’s $13 million wage means nothing, and the Blue Jays going over the tax threshold doesn’t imply all that rather more. As a result of Turner will most likely be a helpful offensive participant, however his lack of baserunning and defensive worth… effectively, it’s why he’s going to finish up making lower than Toronto’s outgoing third baseman, Matt Chapman — a fellow Fullerton alum, which is an amusing curiosity. Turner has outhit Chapman yearly courting again to Chapman’s debut in 2017, however he’s given again a superb chunk of that offensive worth with the glove most of the time.
The query is just not whether or not Turner might help the Blue Jays. Clearly he can. It’s whether or not the Blue Jays are signing Turner along with somebody who may assist them extra, or as an alternative of somebody who may assist them extra.