Third base remains a huge need for the Detroit Tigers. Options are pretty slim. We've been spending the past week or so searching for some solutions, both for third base and for the offense in general.
Internally, there are options, but none of them are good. The Tigers can do better than Matt Vierling, Andy Ibanez, or Zach McKinstry.
One guy that Tigers fans seem split on is Justin Turner, and it's easy to see why. Turner is 39 years old and there's a good chance he's a DH only at this point in his career. He only played 57 innings at third base in 2023 with the Red Sox, and graded out as a horrid defender. He played some first base as well — more than third base — and was better, but he's probably not somebody you want playing there either.
On the other hand, he's still been a pretty consistent hitter over the last three years. He still walks a decent amount and doesn't strike out a whole lot either. Last season, he slashed .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs and a 114 wRC+ in 146 games. We'd take that in a heartbeat.
There really aren't any signs of a decline coming either. Turner was a late bloomer, not playing his first full big league season until 2011, when he was 26. He didn't pop off until he went to the Dodgers, where he became an All-Star.
In 2023, he didn't hit the ball as hard, but he still has a great eye and knows the strike zone well. That's something Scott Harris would love.
So would the bat be worth the poor defense, or him just being a DH? I think it would. The Tigers need offense. They were the third-worst in the league in runs per game last year. They were better than they were in 2022, but that's an incredibly low bar.
If the Tigers were to sign Turner, they could have him in the third base mix until Jace Jung is ready to come up. Or, if Spencer Torkelson were to suffer some sort of injury, he could in there in a pinch. As of right now, the Tigers don't really have a backup plan should Tork get hurt, though he's proven to be pretty durable so far in his young career.
The Detroit Tigers need do do something to improve the offense. Turner may not be the first option people would want, mostly due to his age, but they could do a whole heck of a lot worse, especially for a stopgap.