TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays have added some much-needed pop to their lineup by agreeing to terms with designated hitter Justin Turner on a one-year contract worth US$13 million, the Major League Baseball team announced Tuesday.
The 39-year-old Turner, who hit .276 with 23 homers and 96 runs-batted-in last season for the Boston Red Sox, will be tasked with filling a void at DH in Toronto after the departure of Brandon Belt to free agency.
Turner is a proven playoff performer who will likely slot into the heart of the Toronto batting order, which struggled at times last year.
He served as DH for most of last season but also spent some time in the infield, mostly at first base.
Over his 15-year career with the Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, the two-time all-star has a .288 average with a .363 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage.
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He reached the playoffs in nine straight years (2014-22) with the Dodgers. Turner was a co-winner of the NLCS MVP award in 2017 and won a World Series in 2020.
“Justin Turner has proven himself not only as an exceptional player on the field, but also an exemplary leader in the clubhouse,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said in a release. “Justin’s history of delivering in big moments and his consistent pursuit of winning are admirable traits.”
It has been a rather quiet off-season for the Blue Jays, who were swept in the wild-card round for the second straight year and haven’t won a playoff game since 2016.
Toronto re-signed centre-fielder Kevin Kiermaier to a $10.5-million, one-year deal last month and inked infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa to a $15-million, two-year contract.
There were reports this month that Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez had agreed to a four-year deal but the club has not confirmed the signing.
Turner declined his $13.4-million player option with the Red Sox and received a $6.7-million buyout instead.
The Blue Jays will open spring training on Feb. 15 when pitchers and catchers report in Dunedin, Fla. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 20, four days before the team’s pre-season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Toronto will begin the 2024 regular season on March 28 at Tampa Bay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2024.
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