It’s unsurprising that clubs would have interest in Turner, who has been one of the most consistently above-average hitters in the majors for a decade now. He broke out in 2014 with a .340/.404/.493 showing for the Dodgers, producing a 158 wRC+ that indicated he was 58% better than league average at the plate. In each season since, his wRC+ has finished somewhere between 154 and 123.
Turner signed with the Red Sox this year after a nine-year stretch in Los Angeles. It was officially a two-year, $21.7MM guarantee, with an $8.3MM salary this year followed by a $13.4MM player option that comes with a $6.7MM buyout. Since signing that deal, he’s having another fairly typical season for him, despite now being 38 years old. He’s hitting .289/.359/.481 on the year for a wRC+ of 127, still 27% better than the league-average hitter. He’s done that while providing a bit of defensive versatility, occasionally slotting in at each non-shortstop position on the infield.
Given that he’s having yet another strong season, he seems a lock to turn down that player option and return to free agency as long as he’s stays healthy. Given the high price of the buyout, exactly half of the option price, he’d only need to top $6.7MM on the open market in order to come out ahead. That makes him effectively a rental piece with the deadline now just a few days away.
Last year, the Red Sox were in a similar spot to this year, just a bit outside of contention. On August 1 of 2022, they were 52-52, three games out of a playoff spot. They ended up doing a mix of buying and selling, flipping Jake Diekman and Christian Vázquez but holding onto Nathan Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez and Rich Hill, while also bringing in Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer. That didn’t work out as they ended up fading and missing the playoffs.
Their current 55-47 record puts them in a better spot than last year, though their place in the standings is only modestly better, as they are a game and a half out of a playoff spot. It’s understandable why other teams might call on Turner, hoping the Red Sox would be open to a similar buy-sell hybrid that could make him available, an approach that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has admitted is likely.
How the club ultimately plays the deadline remains to be seen. Just because Turner isn’t available, doesn’t mean other players won’t be. Boston already flipped Enrique Hernández to the Dodgers and has gotten interest on Adam Duvall. It seems likely the club will look to add some pitching depth and they still have a few days to do so. Trading Turner could have been one avenue to getting another arm or two, but it doesn’t seem that is in the club’s plans.