Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best First Base Free Agent Targets

A Look at the five best potential first base free agents for the Pirates.
Aug 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Brandon Belt (13) runs the
Aug 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Brandon Belt (13) runs the / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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Number Four - Justin Turner

Justin Turner produced yet another quality season to his already long resume. After nine strong seasons spent with the LA Dodgers, Turner signed on with the Boston Red Sox to fill a 1B/DH role after years as a primary third baseman. Despite his advancing age, Turner was a good hitter yet again. 

In 626 plate appearances, Turner slashed .276/.345/.455 with a .346 wOBA, and 114 wRC+. Turner went yard 23 times, and also had 31 doubles, leading to a .179 isolated slugging percentage, which is around his career average. Turner’s 8.1% walk rate was a tad low for him, and the lowest he’s had since 2016. His 17.6% strikeout rate was also his worst since 2016, however, neither his strikeout rate nor his walk rate are bad in any sense of the word.

Turner had logged less than 300 innings at first base going into this year and hadn’t manned the position since 2016. But despite the lack of experience, Turner played the position well, racking up +3 defensive runs saved, posting a +2.1 UZR/150, and having zero outs above average. But while Turner played the position more frequently in 2023, he was primarily a designated hitter.

For those worried about his age affecting his power like it might be for Santana, don’t fret just yet. Turner had an 89.5 MPH exit velo and 39% hard-hit rate, both of which are right in line with his career average. Even though expected stats don’t reflect the same story as his surface numbers, he still registered an above average .260 xBA, .443 xSLG, and .336 xwOBA.

Turner would likely be higher on this list if it weren’t for a couple of factors. The first is his age. Turner may still be a productive hitter, but he will turn 39 next month. Turner also has a $13.4 million player option and $6.7 million buyout. It’s not a guarantee he turns this down. Still, in the event Turner does turn down his player option, I believe he could be a player to target. Something like a $10 million, one-year deal with another player option for a second year worth $13-14 would likely get it done.