Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Free Agents With Options to Follow

These players have team and player options before they hit the open market (or return to their team), and are potential free agents the Pirates should follow.
Sep 23, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Nick Martinez (21)
Sep 23, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Nick Martinez (21) / Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports
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Justin Turner

After a decade in Los Angeles, Justin Turner signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox last off-season. But his contract also included a second season option for 2024 worth $13.4 million, but with a $6.7 million buyout, effectively making it a net $6.7 million option. While Turner was still effective with the stick, he is older, and his option isn't overly cheap either.

In 626 plate appearances, Turner hit .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs. Turner's 17.6% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate were both two of the worst marks of his career since becoming a regular. However, neither rate is bad either. His walk rate was only 0.5% worse than the league average, while his strikeout rate was 5.1% better than average this past season. His .179 isolated slugging percentage is just .001 points better than his career average as well. All told he had a .346 wOBA and 114 wRC+.

Turner struggled throughout the final month of the year, however. From April-August, Turner was batting .288/.357/.488 with a 126 wRC+. September saw him post just a .580 OPS, .261 wOBA, and 56 wRC+ in 105 plate appearances. This is mainly because his barrel rate dropped from 6.5% to just 1.4%. Still, one month doesn't make a season, and Turner, by all means, turned in a quality campaign.

2023 marked the first year in Turner's career he saw extended action at first base. While he sporadically played the position through the first handful of seasons of his career, Turner had never played the position for more than 100 innings in any prior season and hasn't even played an inning there since 2016. But despite the lack of experience, Turner played the position well, racking up +2 defensive runs saved, posting a +2.1 UZR/150, and having zero outs above average in 289.1 innings.

Marty also recently mentioned Turner as a free agent target. In my opinion, he would be one player I would love the Pirates to pursue, assuming that Turner decides to look for another contract, instead of opting in to his current deal. In my unprofessional opinion, I think it's more likely Turner chooses the opt out. He will already make $6.7 million, so even something as low as a $7 millon guaranteed deal surpasses what he could have made with Boston, which I think Turner can make. Plus he may look for another deal with an option for 2025.