The link to Hernández is a very plausible one as he represents a powerful right-handed option to insert into a lefty-heavy lineup and one who wouldn’t break the bank, unlike other more high-profile free agent bats.
Hernández could still require a significant commitment. For context, MLB Trade Rumors projected him to make $80 million over four years, and FanGraphs’ projection for Hernández is a three-year, $45 million deal.
The Dodgers have been known to offer deals with higher average annual value over a shorter time, and they could very well try that approach here.
In ways, it feels like the Dodgers have perennially been on the lookout for this type of bat, a right-handed option that can bring some thump into this lineup, ever since they went after A.J. Pollock before 2019.
The comparison sounds a little off, but Pollock was always a better slugger than he got credit for (.467 SLG in Arizona). Not that far off, Hernández’s career slugging percentage is .486. Though it’s clear that Hernández has more pop in his bat, with at least 25 home runs in every 162-game season since 2019. We’re not here to compare him to Pollock.
The link between the Dodgers and Hernández, I believe, says a lot about J.D. Martínez and how the front office will handle the designated hitter position.
The similarities between Martínez and Hernández are pretty apparent. Both bring to the table the ability to not be a liability in batting average, unspectacular OBP’s, and a lot of slugging.
Let’s take a look at their numbers in the last three seasons:
- J.D. Martínez: .278/.338/.509, 77 HR, 126 wRC+
- Teoscar Hernández - .273/.322/.481, 83 HR, 121 wRC+
The sticking point here is that, unlike Martínez, Hernández provides this profile with the ability to play the field every day, and is five years younger. The former Blue Jay and Mariner is no standout defender in the corner outfield, but he can hold his own out there.
It’s no secret the Dodgers are one of the major players in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, and in case he signs, the designated hitter spot would be his.
But it’s not a stretch to assume that the Dodgers might view Hernández as a Martínez replacement if they miss out on Ohtani, which offers the flexibility at DH of years past.
Hernández hurt his value by delivering his worst statistical season since 2019 this year, struggling a bit with the move to the Mariners. He hit .258/.305/.435 with a 105 wRC+.
However, on a positive note, he still hit 26 bombs and was a staple of that Seattle lineup, playing in 160 out of 162 games.
Next year will be Hernández’s age-31 campaign, so there’s still plenty of gas left in the tank. And with a significant track record of success with the Jays, including multiple Silver Slugger Awards, there aren’t many better outfield options on the market.