Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Justin Turner

Sep 27, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Justin Turner (2) watches
Sep 27, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Justin Turner (2) watches / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran Justin Turner could be the perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Pirates at first base

Other than starting pitching, the biggest need the Pittsburgh Pirates need to address this offseason is first base. It could be via free agency or via a trade, but if the Pirates are going to contend in 2024 they need to bring in a first baseman to help bolster the lineup. If Ben Cherington and the Bucs decide to go the free agent route, veteran Justin Turner could be a target.

Last season, Turner had 626 plate appearances in 146 games played for the Boston Red Sox. Still a lineup stalwart, Turner hit for a .276/.345/.455 slash line. He posted a ,179 isoalted slugging (ISO), 114 wRC+ and OPS+, struck out in just 17.6% of his trips to the plate, and was a 2.1 WAR player.

Turner would not just add a strong bat to the Pirate lineup, he would add a right-handed bat which is something the Pirate lineup is in need of. Being able to put Turner somewhere in the lineup between Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski would help break the lefties up. This can make the Pirate lineup deeper and make it more difficult for opposing teams to pitch to.

Even though people likely think third base when they think of Turner, he is more than capable of playing first base. Last season, he played 41 games at first base for the Red Sox. While it was the first time he had played first base since 2016, it gives him 80 career MLB games at first base.

Last season, Turner rated out positively as a defender at first base. He finished the season with a +3 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and an Outs Above Average (OAA) of +1. In his 80 career games at first base, Turner has both a positive DRS and OAA.

The 2024 season will be Turner's age 39 season but he has shown no signs of slowing down. This past season with his 10th consecutive with a wRC+ of at least 114. Other than the 2020 COVID season, Turner has played at least 103 games in each of those 10 seasons.

Another thing Turner would bring to the team is postseason experience which is valuable, especially if the Pirates do truly believe they can contend in 2024. Turner played in 86 postseason games during his time with the Dodgers, hitting for a .270/.370/.460 slash line with a 128 wRC+ in 368 PAs.

Turner would bring a lot of positives to the Pirates. He would be a solid defender at first base, would add a needed right-handed bat to the lineup, and could be a great clubhouse leader for a young club. All of these factors should make Turner a free agent target for the Bucs.

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