Much of the talk surrounding the Boston Red Sox has been about the importance of adding starting pitching this winter. While pitching remains the priority, the hardest question the team faces regards the designated hitter vacancy.
Boston could continue to go the traditional route by adding a slugger who does not play the field much — Justin Turner, J.D. Martinez, Jorge Soler — or use that spot to take players such as Masataka Yoshida, Rafael Devers and Triston Casas off the field, keeping them fresh while improving the defense.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow appeared to lean toward the latter but the most recent designated hitter for Boston is hoping he still has a role.
“I would love to be back and be with the Sox,” Turner told MassLive’s Chris Cotillo at the Pedro Martinez Foundation Gala on Friday. “I think the crazy thing is that as great as our experience was, we finished in last place in the AL East. From what I’ve heard from all these guys — Pedro (Martinez) included — is how amazing this town is when you’re making a playoff run.”
“I want to be a part of that. It has been A-plus across the board in everything we’ve done and that’s with finishing in fifth place in the AL East. I want to know what it’s like to play in a playoff game for the Red Sox, not against them.”
Turner hit .276 with 54 extra-base hits including 23 home runs, 96 RBIs and a .800 OPS (114 OPS+) in 146 games in his debut season with the Red Sox. There is little doubt that he would be a positive force offensively for Boston.
Breslow needs to determine if he considers Turner more of a pure designated hitter or a versatile player. The 38-year-old played 41 games at first base, 10 at second base and seven at third base, which might get him out from under the narrative that he would plug up the designated hitter role daily.
For perspective, Martinez played 12 innings in the field last season. He can be safely crossed off Boston’s wish list.
It’s clear that Turner has strong interest in a reunion but he’ll also have many suitors. The right-handed slugger said he already has more interest than last winter, when he had at least five offers.
With Breslow’s hesitancy to add a true designated hitter, we could be looking at an amicable breakup in the next few months.