Five years ago, the New York Mets parted ways with Justin Turner. In 2018, the decision to non-tender him remains a major mistake.
In 2013, Los Angeles Dodgers star Justin Turner began to show signs of becoming a productive everyday player. He slashed .280/.319/.385 in 214 plate appearances. The batting average was up to a new career-high, but not enough where the New York Mets were willing to see more of him.
At the end of the year, the front office decided to non-tender Turner a contract. He became a free agent and signed with the Dodgers in February. Since then, he has batted .305/.383/.505 and has finished in the top ten of the MVP vote twice.
Turner is now one of the best third basemen in baseball. He has hit over .300 in three of his five seasons with Los Angeles. In the postseason, he has been equally as remarkable. The Metropolitans saw this firsthand when he batted .526 against them in the 2015 NLDS, which, they thankfully still won.
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Turner is the “one that got away” for the modern Mets. They had him and as soon as they let him go, he became a stud.
Who knew, though? Turner looked like a nice utility man. Expecting anything more would have looked insane at the time.
Still, it’s hard to stomach how the Mets let him walk away for nothing at all. Rather than keep him and see what he could become, they parted ways at exactly the wrong time.
If it’s any consolation, Turner did belong to two other organizations before joining the Mets. The Cincinnati Reds traded him in a package to the Baltimore Orioles for catcher Ramon Hernandez. He would land in New York via a waiver claim.
Sports mistakes usually include second-guessing decisions. In the case of non-tendering Turner, we’ll never know if he would have developed into the same player as he did in Los Angeles.
Misery loves company. In 2018, there was plenty for the Mets, Reds, and Orioles even without the past loss of Turner.
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Baseball shouldn’t be a game of what have, should have, or could have. It’s about not repeating those mistakes again.