The New York Mets have spent a full decade rueing the loss of Justin Turner prior to the 2014 season, a moment in time when the braintrust in Flushing, Queens demonstrated that they didn't have half the belief in the utility man that he had in himself.
In one of the clearest examples in recent MLB history of allowing a player to let their freak flag fly and reaping the benefits, Turner spent the entire offseason reworking his swing after self-doubt crept in post-Mets exile and the Dodgers reaped the benefits -- in both the lineup and leadership department.
Along the way, while Turner aged into medium-length contract debates with the Dodgers as the 2020s arrived, David Stearns -- a born-and-raised Mets fan and a burgeoning Brewers executive -- was seemingly always on the periphery, offering Turner a Milwaukee life raft with bouts of genuine interest. While it always ended up looking more like a leverage play than a threat to leave, at least one side of the conversation was approaching things earnestly.
And now, with Turner back on the market again after a successful year in Boston and Stearns no longer faking it somewhere other than Queens, it seems quite likely that the Mets will get to bring things full circle and close Turner's career where they believe it belongs.
Ronny Mauricio's devastating ACL tear in a Winter League game, which should keep him out for at least nine months, only further cemented the fit on Tuesday.
Dodgers could watch Justin Turner sign with Mets in full-circle moment
After leaving a $13.4 million player option with Boston on the table and taking a $6.7 million buyout instead, Turner likely expects to earn slightly more AAV than that on a multi-year pact this winter, probably the final two-year deal of his career.
Last season, he wore down as the campaign dragged on, but was his typical brand of clutch at his peak, hitting .338 with a .943 OPS in 172 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. He embodied what it means to be a Red Sox, taking the lessons learned in Los Angeles and fermenting them into a new variety of beard oil.
Stearns, in the past, has clearly admired whatever Turner's secret sauce may be, and while he was more of a DH than a third baseman in 2023, he's reportedly the most likely option to fill Mauricio's shoes currently on the free agent market. A signing would be a long time coming for both the executive in charge of crafting a competitive roster in a bridge year and the city that could've been his, if only they'd known what Los Angeles soon learned.