Justin Turner’s opening Zoom interview as a member of the Boston Red Sox on Friday contained a slip of the tongue: a “you guys” in reference to Boston’s 2021 run to the American League Championship Series.
“I should say ‘us,'” Turner said, quickly correcting himself.
It was an understandable faux pas. Turner has spent the last nine seasons with the Dodgers, a memorable journey that has included nine playoff appearances, a World Series title and a seemingly invincible bond with his hometown team.
Now Turner will introduce himself to a new clubhouse for the first time since the New York Mets didn’t list him after the 2013 season. Some introductions will not be necessary.
Former Dodgers utility player Kiké Hernandez, who has spent the last two seasons in Boston, was instrumental in recruiting Turner East.
“He’s a really, really good friend of mine,” Turner said of Hernandez. “I talked to him a lot about everything, not just baseball. To say he didn’t really play a big part in it would be a lie.”
Hernandez wrote on his Twitter account on Friday that Turner had a greater impact on his career than all but one former teammate.
“His path and career is one of my biggest inspirations!” said Hernández.
Former Dodgers Kenley Jansen, Alex Verdugo and Chris Martin are also on Boston’s 26-man roster. Turner even played with Red Sox manager Alex Cora with the Mets, and the two had “a lot of conversations” this offseason, Turner said.
Turner’s contract will see him earn at least $8.3 million in 2023 and up to $1 million more in bonuses based on his record appearances. Turner also received a player option for 2024 worth $13.4 million, or a $6.7 million buyout.
The Dodgers were one of four teams to make a formal offer of a contract, Turner said. He was awaiting a fifth offer days after deciding to sign with the Red Sox.
“When you’ve been with a team for that long and you go freehand, you’re always waiting and hoping they’re in the game, but eventually you realize it’s a deal,” Turner said. “You had to make decisions. I had to make decisions. It just didn’t work out.”
Turner has been the Dodgers’ primary third baseman since 2015. At his peak, he was among the top defensemen at that position in the National League, garnering MVP votes in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The 38-year-old Turner was in danger of losing game time to rookie third baseman Miguel Vargas with the Dodgers. Returning veteran Max Muncy started more games than Turner at third base in 2022. The Red Sox recently re-signed third baseman Rafael Devers to a long-term contract, so Turner expects to see more time at first base and as a batsman-designated in 2023.
Turner reckons he has a better chance of making an impression on the field in Boston than in Los Angeles. Only three teams received less offensive performance from their first basemen last season than the Red Sox. After a slow start in 2022, Turner hit .349 with nine home runs in 59 games from June 30 through the end of the regular season.
“I don’t come here to teach everyone how to be a good person,” he said.
And yet Turner will be just as remembered for his influence off the field in Southern California. He is the incumbent winner of MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes “character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field.” It was Turner’s fifth nomination for the award.
Turner founded his eponymous charitable foundation with his wife Kourtney in 2016. In addition to their formal work with the Dream Center in Echo Park, the Turners are frequent visitors to local children’s hospitals. The Los Angeles City Council recognized this on January 22, 2019 and declared it “Justin Turner Day”.
Turner leaves the Dodgers as the all-time postseason record holder in games (86), plate appearances (368), hits (85), doubles (19), homers (13) and RBIs (42) and on Friday night he took to social media to say goodbye to the Dodger fans.
“To say my life changed for the better the day I put on a Dodger uniform is an understatement,” Turner wrote, before speaking of his time with the team, marrying his wife and the told things that the two could achieve in the community.
Turner concluded by thanking various groups within the Dodgers organization and the fans.
“There aren’t enough thanks in a lifetime to express my gratitude to each and every person who helped make this chapter so special. I hope I was able to have just a fraction of the effect you all had on me. From the owners to the front office, coaches, strength and training staff, research and development, my teammates, the stadium workers, security guards, flight attendants, the ground crew, the media, family, friends and most importantly the fans, THANK YOU. Thank you for hugging Kourt and I, thank you for your unconditional love, and thank you for making this post so incredibly difficult to write.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/06/justin-turner-on-leaving-dodgers-for-red-sox-theres-a-point-that-you-realize-this-is-a-business/ “Eventually you realize this is a business” – Orange County Register