Justin Turner declines player option, will test free agency

Red Sox

Turner was third on the Red Sox in homers and second in RBIs in 2023.

Justin Turner might not be returning to the Red Sox in 2024. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Justin Turner declined his player option for 2024 and will become a free agent, the Red Sox announced Friday.

Turner still has the option to sign with Boston, but for now, he’ll test the market and assess his options for next season. Negotiating with Turner may become the first task for newly-hired Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow.

The 2023 season didn’t provide many positive developments for Boston. Turner’s steady presence offensively, though, was a welcome surprise. The 38-year-old finished second on the team in RBIs (96) and third in home runs (23). He did so while boasting the second highest batting average of all Red Sox (.279).

Turner would be valuable for Boston if he chooses to return in 2024. His dependability and value as a leader would be crucial, especially if the Red Sox field a young roster next season. A 15-year MLB veteran with as much upside as Turner showed in 2023 doesn’t come around often.

On top of his offensive prowess, Turner filled spots in the infield when needed. He proved he could be a solid first baseman if he can’t remain a designated hitter for the Red Sox.

However, the clock is ticking on Turner’s career, and he may be looking for another World Series before hanging up his cleats. If that is his mindset, leaving Boston will probably increase his chances.

Wherever Turner lands next season, he exceeded expectations with the Red Sox. He also seems to have played his way into a pay raise, as he’ll likely command more than the $6.7 million he was set to earn had he accepted his player option in Boston.