Veteran first baseman Justin Turner recently showed his love for the city of Pittsburgh, but could there be a level of mutual interest if the Pirates pursued him?
The Pittsburgh Pirates are hopefully searching for some help at first base. One of the better free agents out there is Justin Turner, who spent the 2023 season with the Boston Red Sox. Turner recently retweeted a tweet showing PNC Park’s beauty, but also shared his opinion, not just on the park, but of the city of Pittsburgh itself.
Now of course, this is just a tweet and pure speculation. You can say it’s grasping at straws, and I can totally see that. But it does seem like there would be some level of mutual interest if the Pirates showed a desire to pursue Turner. The Pirates could easily give Turner regular reps at first base next season, and Turner definitely showed a love for Pittsburgh with his tweet.
Turner would also be a great fit for the Pirates. Last year, the veteran corner infielder posted a .276/.345/.455 triple-slash with a .346 wOBA, and 114 wRC+. Although this was his least productive season with the bat since his 2014 breakout with the LA Dodgers, it was still a quality year altogether. His 8.1% walk rate was slightly below league average, but he struck out less than 20% of the time for the 13th season in a row. He also went yard 23 times.
Tuner was primarily a third baseman for most of his career, and only shifted to first base this past season. But despite 2023 being the first year of his career he saw playing time at first semi-frequently, he was a good enough defender to deserve an extended look with +3 defensive runs saved and zero outs above average.
I could definitely see Turner signing a similar contract to what he inked last off-season with the Red Sox. That would be a low-base salary contract with a second option year, but a high buyout. Last year, he only signed for $8.3 million, but his buyout for a second year was valued at $6.7 million, meaning he was basically signing a one-year deal at $14.7 million. A one-year deal valued at $8 million with a $4-5 million buyout, and an opt-in at the same price may get the job done.
Turner has expressed a love for Pittsburgh, and the Pirates need a first baseman. Obviously, nothing is that simple, but it would make sense, and there could be some mutual interest between the two parties. Turner would be a great addition to the team who will provide a solid bat and glove, and bring some veteran leadership as well.