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  • Tim Burke

Red Sox Thoughts: Justin Turner, JD Martinez, Shortstop and Devers Extension

The Boston Red Sox have signed Justin Turner to a one-year deal for 8.3 million with a 2024 player option for 11.4 million. Turner has spent the last nine years with the Dodgers, where he has been a significant part of their offense. It appeared the Dodgers ended the hopes of a Turner reunion after signing Red Sox legend JD Martinez to a one-year deal worth 10 million. Interesting that the Red Sox and Dodgers have coincidentally swapped stars in the Free Agency period.

Turner has been a star for nearly a decade. Like Martinez, he struggled early in his Major League career, but after adjusting his approach to hitting, Turner's career changed for the better. He put together eight straight seasons in LA with an OPS over .800 but lost that streak in 2022 with a .788 OPS, still well above the league average. It is worth noting that after a rough first half of the season, Turner had a .889 OPS in the second half. Turner's plate discipline and high contact rate are major factors in his success. Two qualities the Red Sox desperately needed in last year's lineup. He also drives the ball in the air at an extremely high rate, which will play well at Fenway Park. The Green Monster should be Turner's best friend. He can also play defense, allowing Alex Cora to be more flexible with that DH spot. Flexibility in that spot will avoid wear and tear for players who may be playing through minor injuries.

It is clear to me that the Red Sox are rebuilding. They are changing the clubhouse dynamic and adding players who have played in winning environments, such as Turner, Jansen, and Yoshida. The addition of Justin Turner is a good one. Beyond his offensive skills, Turner will be a veteran presence and leader for the Boston Red Sox. Off the field, he is a great person. He was the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award winner for his commitment to the community and understanding of the value of helping others. I have been a fan of Justin Turner for a long time. He is one of the underrated players of the last decade, a leader, and one of the game's best personalities. I am excited that he is with the Boston Red Sox.

Middle Infield

I expect several more moves to be made by the Front Office. It has been a tough offseason for fans. Losing Xander Bogaerts was tough, and it was preventable. The Red Sox staying away from the Shortstop even after losing Xander was an interesting decision. There were plenty of options that could have bolstered this team. But the Red Sox believe in Marcelo Mayer as the Shortstop of the future. However, I think they are putting too much pressure on a 20-year-old prospect who has never played above A ball. Mayer was drafted fourth overall and is believed to be the most talented of the 2021 Draft Class. But that does not mean he will automatically make an impactful player in the big leagues. Especially not right away. Adding one of the elite Free-Agent Shortstops would have been a good decision.

Another worry I have is Trevor Story’s arm at Shortstop. Story's arm strength has declined in recent years, especially after elbow surgery. I am not concerned about Story being unable to play the position, and his baseball IQ and range are off the charts. My concern is his health. Why risk a potential reinjury in Story's elbow? That's the worst case for the Red Sox and Story. I imagine their next move is for a middle infielder. Possible fits are Jean Segura and Elvis Andrus; both players are solid defenders and veteran hitters who would make the Red Sox lineup deeper. Personally, I have always loved Segura's game as I prefer line-drive hitters, but I would welcome either player to Boston as they would make this team better in 2023. They can also serve as a short-term option until Mayer arrives.

JD Martinez Farewell

I want to take this opportunity to praise JD Martinez. He is one of the best Free Agent signings in Red Sox history whose work ethic and preparation are unlike anything I've seen from a hitter. His 2018 season was one of the greatest offensive seasons in Boston Red Sox history. Without him, there would be no 2018 World Series Championship. He was a difference-maker on that team and was unbelievably clutch in October of that year. Unfortunately, injuries have prevented him from contributing in the outfield, which is why the Red Sox have moved on from Martinez. It is a shame. Martinez struggled down the stretch in 2022 but still showed signs of dominance in the first half of 2022. There was still a place for JD on this team. The Red Sox are rebuilding, but a young hitter like Casas could have used a mentor like Martinez, one of the most knowledgeable hitters in the sport. But moving on from JD allows flexibility in the Red Sox lineup. It makes sense. However, I will be watching plenty of Dodgers games this year. A reunion between Betts and Martinez will be fun to watch. It is a duo Boston fans deserved to see for more than two years. Both players will benefit from a reunion. Thank you for five great years, JD! You earned every cent of your contract.

Final Thoughts/Devers

It has been a frustrating off-season from a fan standpoint. They have made solid additions to the team, but the additions they did not make were frustrating. You never know what the Red Sox Front Office has in store. They have reportedly been very active in the trade market. Considering they're in rebuild mode, the Red Sox will likely continue to add solid players to fill areas of need instead of doing anything flashy. However,

the most important part of this offseason is extending Rafael Devers. This is not only what fans want but what the Red Sox need. He should be the face of your franchise for years to come. Devers is an elite hitter and one of the best in the game. At 26, Devers has had two 100 RBI seasons, four where he had an OPS over .800, and one season where he leads the American League in doubles and extra-base hits. The crazy thing is that I still believe there is another level to Devers's game. He is going to win an MVP soon, if not multiple. I understand the Red Sox are an organization that is reluctant to give out contracts for more than seven years. However, Devers is entering his age twenty-six season. If you're going to sign an elite player to a mega deal, Devers is the perfect candidate. If not, trade him for all the assets you can get. But if that happens, I will start to be less optimistic about the future of the Red Sox. It has been reported that the Red Sox will make Devers an offer in the coming days. Fingers crossed that he accepts.

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