This offseason, the New York Mets have been linked to nearly every person who has ever thrown a baseball. One name is beginning to get some traction; at least in the hearts and opinions of fans who have stuck around for the last decade.
Third baseman Justin Turner is jobless and in need of some work. The longtime Los Angeles Dodgers infielder is coming off a championship, ready to embark on his dreaded age 36 season. It’s not a great time to become a free agent but it’s also not a horrendous one given his performance.
From a Mets perspective, reuniting with Turner feels romantic and also a little odd. He hasn’t been with the Mets since 2013 and when he was, Turner was nothing more than a part-time player. As strange as it may be, a one-year pact could make sense for both the player and team.
Why a Justin Turner reunion with the Mets works
Turner may be in the twilight of his career, but his numbers suggest he’s not done yet. He’s coming off a year in which he slashed .307/.400/.460. He also wrapped up the postseason quite well, batting .280 in the NLCS and .320 with a pair of home runs in the World Series.
Even if we disregard last year, Turner has been tremendous. From 2017-2019, he hit .307/.397/.519 with an average of 28 home runs and 39 doubles per 162 games.
There’s no doubt Turner can hit. He may even be able to outperform the current starting third baseman, J.D. Davis.
The real question is whether or not he’s actually a nice fit for the Mets when we consider everything else.
If Davis remains on the roster, I suppose they could share third base duties. Davis could play some left field as well and we might see Turner fill in as the starting second baseman on rare occasions. Turner is certainly not the best fit. He’s also far from the worst.
Defensively, Turner has seen his metrics decline over the past two seasons to a negative WAR. It’s not an incredibly low number and would put Davis’ best defensive season to shame. It doesn’t make sense, however, to bring Turner to New York just for his glove. We should expect it to decline a little more this year as he adds another rotation around the sun to his life.
Should the Mets pursue Justin Turner?
I’m not advocating for the Mets to buy some balloons, hang a banner, and welcome Turner back for a reunion. At first thought, it seemed like a trivial decision. What use would the Mets have for him? They have other guys who can do what he can.
The Mets definitely have other priorities to put before Turner. Their lack of outfield depth is alarming. Solving this should be their priority over a one-year deal with a veteran corner infielder that feels more romantic than logical.
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New York still has room for veteran players to fill out their bench or secure a platoon role with the team. Turner, if willing to accept such a role with them, could help push the Mets forward in their pursuit of a championship.