The Marlins have made an offer to free-agent corner infielder Justin Turner, per Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. There are other teams interested, per the report, but Miami’s offer is generally viewed as a “competitive” one. In addition to the Marlins, Turner has received interest from the incumbent Dodgers — who declined a $16MM club option on him — as well as the Diamondbacks.
Turner, 38, would give the Marlins a direly needed right-handed bat to help with the team’s miserable production against left-handed pitching. Miami was the worst team in baseball against lefties in 2022, and it wasn’t particularly close, as Marlins hitters turned in a .208/.273/.325 batting line versus southpaws. That resulted in a 71 wRC+, which trailed the 29th-ranked D-backs by a measure of 10 points and suggested that Miami hitters were 29% worse than league average against lefties (after weighting for home park and league environment).
As such, a veteran of Turner’s stature would be a massive boon to Miami’s run-scoring potential. The longtime Dodgers slugger posted a .275./349/.389 batting line against lefties in 2022 and carries a stout .276/.358/.460 output against left-handed pitchers over the course of a 14-year career in the Majors. Setting aside his platoon splits, Turner batted .278/.350/.438 in 2022 (123 wRC+) and has been at least 23% better than league average at the plate in each season dating back to 2014.
With the Marlins, the expectation would be that Turner would split his time between third base, first base and designated hitter. Turner has scarcely played first base in the Majors, logging just 238 innings in his career — none since 2016. He’s long been a solid third baseman, but his defensive grades have begun to dwindle in his late 30s, and the Dodgers used him at designated hitter in about half of his 128 games in 2022. Each of Defensive Runs Saved (-1), Ultimate Zone Rating (-2.1) and Outs Above Average (-2) panned Turner’s glovework at the hot corner in 574 innings, although while each mark was below-average, none painted him as a complete liability, either.
It’s been a quiet offseason for the Marlins, who’ve done little to address their roster outside of a trade for Rays reliever JT Chargois. The offense, which ranked 24th in the Majors in homers (144), 28th in runs scored (586), 26th in batting average (.230), 27th in on-base percentage (.294) and 28th in slugging percentage (.363) could stand upgrades at multiple positions.
It’s not quite clear just how much Miami has to spend this winter, but Mish and Jackson suggest Miami was willing to put forth an offer in the neighborhood of two years and $40MM for Jose Abreu before he signed with the Astros, suggesting that general manager Kim Ng has at least some leeway in her pursuits of veteran free agents.
The Marlins are projected by Roster Resource to trot out an Opening Day payroll in the neighborhood of $95MM at the moment. Turner would likely add more than $10MM to that figure, pushing the Marlins close to the franchise’s $115MM Opening Day record, set back in 2017 under former owner Jeffrey Loria.