Of the mass exodus the Los Angeles Dodgers have experienced in free agency this offseason, arguably the most surprising is Justin Turner signing with the Boston Red Sox.
When free agency began, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman identified re-signing Clayton Kershaw and Turner as top priorities for the team. Turner openly expressed a desire to finish his career with the Dodgers after spending the past nine seasons with the them.
The possibility of the Dodgers re-signing Turner appeared to be a likely outcome until J.D. Martinez agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract. Shortly after, the Red Sox and Turner agreed to terms on a one-year deal that includes a player option for 2024.
During his first interview after signing with the Red Sox, Turner reiterated his hope was to remain with the Dodgers but that other factors prevented that from becoming a reality, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
“When you’re with a team that long and going into free agency, you’re always kind of waiting and hoping that they’re in play, but there’s a point that you realize this is a business,” Turner said. “They had decisions they had to make. I had decisions I had to make. It just didn’t work out.”
Although Friedman mentioned Turner was a priority for the Dodgers, it’s unclear how aggressive the team was in re-signing the Long Beach native. It has not been publicly revealed if the Dodgers made a contract offer to Turner.
What has been apparent throughout the offseason is the Dodgers’ desire to remain under the $233 million luxury tax threshold for the 2023 season. That has become all the more challenging in the wake of an independent arbitrator reducing Trevor Bauer’s suspension to 194 games and reinstating him effective immediately.
Bauer was subsequently designated for assignment, but the Dodgers are facing the prospect of needing to pay him $22.5 million in salary this year. That figure could be reduced if Bauer is traded or reaches free agency and signs with a new team.
Earlier in the offseason, Turner cited luxury tax implications during an interview with AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio as one reason he remained a free agent rather than having worked out a new deal.
Turner became a free agent due to the Dodgers declining their $16 million team option for 2023 and instead paying a $2 million buyout.
Kiké Hernandez recruited Justin Turner to Red Sox
During an appearance on MLB Network’s “High Heat,” Turner confirmed former Dodgers teammate and close friend Kiké Hernandez led a free agency recruiting effort on behalf of the Red Sox.
Turner also said New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sent him a text message to speak highly of Boston as a sports city.
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