The Toronto Blue Jays have signed veteran designated hitter and infielder Justin Turner on a one-year deal.
The Blue Jays initially targeted Shohei Ohtani to become the team's designated hitter, but after the superstar signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Blue Jays brass had to look elsewhere.
In the 2023 season, Turner played in 146 games, batted .276, posted a .345 on-base percentage, and had 154 hits, 23 home runs, and 96 RBI. He played 98 games as a designated hitter, 41 games at first base, 10 games at second base, and seven games at third base.
Turner gives the young Jays clubhouse an experienced player to look to. Turner is 39 years old, a two-time All-Star, a World Series winner in 2020, and he earned the NLCS MVP award in 2017 with the Dodgers, posting a .333 average, two home runs, seven RBI, and five walks in a series against the Chicago Cubs.
Turner began his career with the Baltimore Orioles, was traded to the New York Mets 17 games into his career, and then signed as a free agent with the Dodgers. He joined the Boston Red Sox in free agency before the 2023 season, so he is familiar with the AL East.
Turner replaces Brandon Belt, who is still a free agent and was the Blue Jays' designated hitter last season. Belt played in 43 fewer games than Turner last season, and he played in the field less frequently - just 28 times, all at first base.
Even though the Blue Jays missed out on Ohtani, the fact they were in the hunt for him shows they want to make a splash in free agency. Adding Turner on a one-year deal gives them flexibility for next offseason, when Juan Soto, Pete Alonso, and Alex Bregman are all slated to become free agents.