Yankees could eye veteran slugger to fuel 2024 charge
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Alex Verdugo – who recently joined the Yankees – was a good name during this offseason. However, as the story unfolded, it prompted consideration of another unconventional move: signing free agent Justin Turner, a player who had a brief stint with the Red Sox.
Could the Yankees consider a veteran slugger to fuel their 2024 charge?
While some may question Turner’s fit with the Yankees, he brings a reliable offensive option to a lineup that struggled with consistency last season. The team addressed outfield depth in the winter, but concerns linger about the thinness of their infield.
Acknowledging Turner’s limitations at third base, where he played fewer than 80 games over the last two seasons, it’s evident that he can contribute as a spot starter while also handling first base and designated hitter duties.
Despite Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo seemingly anchoring the positions, it’s crucial not to disregard the broader context. Stanton has a history of significant injuries, missing substantial time in four out of the last five seasons. Rizzo, while expected to be the primary first baseman, may benefit from a capable backup against tough left-handed pitchers – a role Turner could seamlessly fill.
As a veteran bench bat, Turner could provide valuable contributions by spelling players at the corners and stepping into the DH role when needed. Despite being 38, Turner demonstrated his worth with a solid .276/.345/.455 line and a 114 OPS+ last season.
Addressing the Yankees’ past reliance on replacement-level hitters, it’s evident that bolstering the reserve ranks remains a priority. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa gone, the team lacks significant infield depth at the major league level. Even promising talent Oswald Peraza may begin the season in Triple-A.
Admittedly, Turner might command a higher cost than the average depth backup. However, a one-year deal seems probable at this stage of his career. FanGraphs predicted a $10 million one-year contract for Turner before the offseason, a justifiable expense for a part-time player considering the Yankees’ willingness to exceed the luxury tax threshold.
Having already committed to crossing the luxury tax barrier with the Marcus Stroman signing, the Yankees can afford to invest further in fortifying their roster for the 2024 season. If they are genuinely “all-in,” acquiring veterans on one-year deals, as demonstrated with Verdugo in the outfield, becomes a strategic approach to enhance depth.
In summary, Justin Turner emerges as a sensible opportunity for the Yankees to address their infield needs, providing a seasoned bat and defensive flexibility on a potentially one-year deal, aligning with their aggressive approach for the upcoming season.