The Marlins have checked into Justin Turner’s market, The Miami Herald’s Craig Mish reports (via Twitter). Turner entered free agency after the Dodgers declined their $16MM club option on the veteran infielder.
Turner has spent the last nine seasons in Los Angeles, becoming a fan favorite and a key figure in the Dodgers’ success. Despite being something of an afterthought early in his career with the Orioles and Mets, Turner blossomed once coming to L.A., hitting .296/.375/.490 with 156 homers over his 4220 plate appearances in a Dodger uniform. The highlights included two All-Star appearances, NLCS MVP honors in 2017, and the Dodgers’ World Series championship in 2020.
Though 2022 was Turner’s age-37 season, he still provided a very solid 123 wRC+ by hitting .278/.350/.438 with 13 homers in 532 PA. Given how Turner struggled badly in the first three months before catching fire later, it is quite possible that the lockout and the abbreviated Spring Training threw off Turner’s usual routine, leaving him in need of some time to get fully ramped up. This bodes well for his chances of continuing to hit even as he gets deeper into his late 30’s.
The Dodgers’ decision to decline Turner’s option may have been simply more about flexibility than a reflection of the team’s feelings about Turner’s production going forward, as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has said that the team wants to bring Turner back for the 2023 campaign. Turner has re-signed with the Dodgers in past trips to free agency, and yet if he is looking for a new chapter, the Marlins are one of many teams that should have interest in a reliable veteran bat who might not be overly expensive.
MLBTR projected Turner for a one-year, $14MM contract, which should work even with the Marlins’ rather modest budget. Turner’s veteran leadership would also boost a young Miami clubhouse, and he would be reunited with former Dodger co-hitting coach Brant Brown, who was recently hired as the Marlins’ hitting coach.
On the field, Turner’s production would upgrade a lineup that has been among the league’s worst for two seasons running. Brian Anderson was non-tendered, leaving third base wide open for Turner — utilityman Joey Wendle can play all over the diamond, perhaps only getting some third base time when Turner is getting a DH day, or perhaps playing first base. With the Marlins focusing on improving their contact hitting, Turner would be an excellent fit given his career-long ability to put the ball in play and avoid strikeouts.