Dodgers to sign Teoscar Hernandez
The Dodgers continued their free agent spending spree, agreeing to a one-year, $23.5 million deal with the outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. Only $15 million of that salary will be paid to Hernandez this year, while the rest is deferred and will be paid in installments from 2030 to 2039. Hernandez represents Republic Sports, and the contract will become official when Hernandez passes his physical.
Reports of the Dodgers’ interest in Hernandez surfaced shortly after the free agent market opened in early November, and Los Angeles maintained that interest all the way up to today’s agreement. The Dodgers are known to still be looking for a right-handed bat, and now they’ve filled that need in a big way with the former All-Star and Silver Slugger hitting 147 home runs over 3,002 games since the start of the 2018 season.
After a series of productive years with the Blue Jays, Hernandez was dealt Eric Swanson And Adam Maco Last season, Hernandez’s move to Seattle led to a decline in his production. While he still went to the yard 26 times, Hernandez hit just .258/.305/.435 over 678 plate appearances, and his 105 wRC+ was well below his 133 wRC+ from 2020-22. Since Hernandez’s baseline metrics have been largely the same as his career benchmarks, it seems possible that T-Mobile Park could be the biggest culprit. Hernandez hit just .217/.263/.380 in the Mariners’ outfield last season, in contrast to a much stronger .295/.344/.486 slash line on the road.
While Dodger Stadium has a good reputation among pitchers, it would make sense for the 31-year-old Hernandez to get back on track in a new environment, and this one-year deal may reflect his desire to re-establish himself before committing to a long-term contract. MLB Trade Rumors ranked Hernandez 12th on our list of the top 50 free agents for the winter and projected him on a four-year, $80 million deal, under the logic that an offseason’s lack of quality at-bats would still result in a big contract for Hernandez even in the wake of the 2023 campaign. Disappointing.
It may also be the case that Hernandez was open to a one-year deal specifically to join the Dodgers, as the outfielder now joins baseball’s most loaded lineup. Los Angeles has already made plenty of runs in its 100-win campaign in 2023, and has now added this solid group of position players Shohei Otani To the DH point and Hernandez to the corner outfield role.
Hernandez can now join a contender and possibly win a World Series ring, while ideally posting a better year on the podium that would allow him to score a big multi-year contract next winter. The Angels and Red Sox were two other teams known to be vying for Hernandez’s services, and the reporter reported Francis Romero And Chris Cutillo of MassLive.com (Links In Boston’s case, Cotillo wrote that the Sox were interested in something closer to a two-year, $28 million pact.
Hernandez now appears to be the Dodgers’ everyday option primarily in left field, although he can slide into right field when the left fielder is on the mound (thus sending Jason Heyward to the bench). Los Angeles may still be a bit unbalanced with left-handed hitters in their first-choice lineup, yet Hernandez now joins Mookie Betts And will Smith Like big right-handed swingers, plus the Dodgers have other right-handed bats Chris Taylor, Manuel MargotAnd Miguel Rojas Available off the bench.
Margot was also recently acquired as part of Tyler Glasnow He was traded to the Rays but is known more for his defense than his bat. Taylor can fill multiple positions, and his hitting is also a question mark after a down year in 2022, although he bounced back with a 104 wRC+ over .384 PA last season. Having Taylor as a super-sub around the diamond might be a better use of his skill set than taking a regular spot in left field, even if the defensive metrics have been mixed at best around Hernandez’s outfield gloves during his career.
Hernandez has never racked up many walks in his career, and his high strikeout total adds more swings and misses to a team that has already seen Taylor, Josh Oatman, Max Muncyand even Ohtani ranks well below league average in strikeout rate in 2023. However, the relative lack of contact is a minor blemish compared to the massive upside provided by the Dodgers’ overall offensive attack.
The deferred money will lower the luxury tax number on Hernandez’s $23.5 million salary, but his signing represents another big spend for a Los Angeles team that has essentially outspent the rest of the league combined in offseason spending. Led by Ohtani’s $700 million deal and Yoshinobu YamamotoWith a contract worth $325 million, the Dodgers have now spent just under $1.067 billion on free agents alone this winter, not to mention the additional money taken in when Los Angeles acquired Glasnow and then expanded him. According to roster resources, the Dodgers’ 2024 tax number is now approximately $302.32 million, well above the maximum competitive balance tax penalty of $297 million.
Even with the luxury tax bill continuing to mount, there’s little reason to believe Los Angeles is done making moves, as starting pitching remains essential even after adding Yamamoto and Glasnow. Obviously, more signings cannot be ruled out, or the Dodgers could move more young talent in other trades for another start. The sky is basically the limit for Los Angeles at this point, as the Dodgers have even gone beyond their usual high-spending ways (with several postponements somewhat screwing up the finances on the way) in building a true superteam with Ohtani, Betts, Yamamoto , And Freddie Freeman Between the cornerstone.
Correspondent Moises Fabian (via X) was the first with the news that Hernandez had signed with Los Angeles, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan (X Links) I mentioned details about the duration of the year, salary, and deferred funds.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Pictures
(Tags for translation) Teoscar Hernandez