On February 6, 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a Minor League signing that turned out to be one of their most impactful transactions in franchise history when Justin Turner agreed to join the club as a non-roster player with an invite to Spring Training.
Turner had become a free agent due to being non-tendered by the New York Mets, and he went on to make the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster in 2014 as a utility player. From there, Turner earned a role as the everyday third baseman and that job was further cemented when Juan Uribe was traded to the Atlanta Braves in May 2015.
After taking over as the starting third baseman, Turner went on to become a franchise legend for the Dodgers and even had the Los Angeles City Council proclaim January 22 as Justin Turner Day in 2019.
Turner and the Dodgers parted ways following the 2022 season as the 38-year-old signed with the Boston Red Sox on a one-year contract with a player option for 2024.
As the Dodgers traveled to Boston for their series with the Red Sox, it was a reunion for many players, including Mookie Betts, Kiké Hernández, Kenley Jansen and Alex Verdugo.
But none of those players made an impact on their former franchise the way Turner did with the Dodgers, and he recalled how special it was to play for his hometown team, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“There was no doubt that was a turning point in my career. It’s where things took off for me,” said Turner, who left the Dodgers as the franchise’s all-time leader in postseason hits and home runs. “Putting on that uniform was obviously special, being a Southern California kid and going on to accomplish the things that I accomplished there was something I’d never dreamed.”
Turner spent nine season with the Dodgers, becoming a two-time All-Star, World Series champion, leader in the clubhouse, fan favorite and a pillar in the community. Turner had such an impact within the clubhouse from his leadership, that players on the team expressed their disappointment to no longer have him around moving forward.
Turner hit .296/.375/.490 with 235 doubles, 156 home runs and 574 RBI in 1,075 games during his career with the Dodgers. He holds the all-time Dodgers franchise record in hit-by-pitches.
Turner also left his mark in October, holding numerous Dodgers playoff records, including most games played (86), hits (85), RBI (42), runs scored (43), doubles (19) and hit by pitch (13), and he’s tied for home runs with Corey Seager (13) and walks with Max Muncy (38).
Turner also tied an MLB record with six doubles in the 2015 National League Division Series, which is the most ever in a single postseason series, and his 10 hits were the most ever by a Dodgers player in a DS, along with the most by a member of the franchise in a postseason series since Steve Garvey had 10 in the 1981 World Series.
The following season, Turner set the franchise record by reaching safely in 15 consecutive postseason games, and in 2017 he had five RBI in NLDS Game 1, tying the Dodgers record for most in a single playoff game.
“You can’t teach what he’s doing,” Clayton Kershaw said in 2017. “No mechanics or anything can teach the mindset and the competitiveness, the clutchness, whatever that is. It seems like every single night he’s in the right position to come up with a big hit.”
Although he was unable to end his career with the franchise where he became a star as he had hoped, Turner will forever be etched into Dodgers lore as one of the most impactful players in club history.
Justin Turner left Dodgers due to ‘business’ decisions
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 them.
However, the Dodgers decided to sign J.D. Martinez, and shortly after that the Red Sox agreed to a deal with Turner. After signing, the Long Beach native reiterated his hope was to remain in L.A. but believed luxury tax factors prevented that from happening.
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