Justin Turner Reveals Shocking Detail of Red Sox Contract Negotiations

Sep 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Justin Turner (2)
Sep 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Justin Turner (2) / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, former Boston Red Sox infielder Justin Turner agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. If he had it his way though, the 39-year-old would have been back in a Red Sox uniform for 2024.

On Friday, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reported that Turner considered returning to the Red Sox as a "no brainer" but Boston's front office never truly engaged. This reporting was corroborated by Peter Gammons, who stated that Turner and his representatives reached out to the Red Sox but the conversations never reached the point of any substance.

As also pointed out by Chris Cotillo of MassLive, Breslow's intention to rotate designated hitters slimmed the chances of a Turner return. Turner's corner infield positions are spoken for with $300 million man Rafael Devers at the hot corner and 2023 rookie sensation Triston Casas at first base. Boston also only really has themselves to blame for the situation at designated hitter, as they inked outfielder Masataka Yoshida to 5-year, $90 million contract last offseason only to apparently later discover that he couldn't actually play the outfield at the major league level. Now, Yoshida is forced to take up at-bats at the DH spot. Turner started 98 games as the team's DH in 2023, more than any other position.

Turner had acknowledged in November that despite his desire to return to Boston, he understood that a new front office brings uncertainty. New chief baseball officer Craig Breslow was hired on Oct. 25.

"Once [Craig] Breslow and the rest of the front office figure out what they want to do or what direction they want to go, hopefully I’m a part of that and I’m back in a Red Sox jersey. But there’s always that unknown when a new front office comes in."

Justin Turner

Turner further spoke on wanting to make a playoff run in Boston while highlighting some of the cities' other franchises, comments that are endearing to such a passionate sports town.

"From what I’ve heard from all these guys, Pedro [Martinez] included, is how amazing this town is when you’re making a playoff run, and we got a small taste of it with the Bruins and with the Celtics last year. But I want to be a part of that."

Justin Turner

In his lone season in Boston, he hit .276 with 23 home runs and 96 RBI, a career high. By all accounts, Turner is a widely respected teammate, professional, and a leader in the clubhouse. The 15-year MLB vet took a mentorship role in the 2023 by often leading the team's hitting meetings. He will go down as one of the best one-season Red Sox, along with recently elected Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre.

To be clear, Turner could have returned to Boston on a player option for $13.4 million (a shade more than what he received from Toronto), but he declined that option and accepted a $6.7 million buyout. Perhaps he was anticipating that he could receive the buyout on top of re-signing with the club.

There was a time when the Red Sox would have been chastised for handling the situation in this manner, but unfortunately this is the type of move that the fanbase has grown more accustomed to with the implementation of the John Henry Threshold.

Turner may have wanted to make a playoff run in Boston, but it doesn't seem like the team has similar aspirations, at least not for this year. At least John Henry got his PGA Tour deal.

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