Teoscar Hernandez Landing Spots
The 31-year-old Dominican native has hit the open market for the first time in his career. Let's take a peek as to where he may end up!
2023 was a sluggish season for Teoscar Hernandez. During his first, and possibly only year with Seattle, the right-handed power bat couldn’t quite figure things out.
Hernandez started ice cold in April, posting just a .675 OPS, despite 7 home runs over 102 at-bats. Then, as things warmed up, his bat didn’t get the memo. During the dog days of summer, the former Blue Jay clubbed just 1 home run in the entire month of July. Yikes.
The true kryptonite for 2023 Teoscar Hernandez was the letter “K”; he couldn’t avoid it. His 221 strikeouts were the third most in all of baseball, while his 31.1 K% was the fifth worst. For reference, the league average is about 23%.
The good news? Even if Hernandez seemed unproductive at the plate for the majority of the Mariners season, he still managed to hit 26 homers while posting a 106 OPS+ and driving in 93. He also swiped 7 bags and knocked around 29 doubles.
In a season where the slugger dipped more toward his floor than ceiling, he was still considered an above-average hitter.
In fact, Hernandez was still at the top 90th percentile of Hard-Hit%, and the top 88th of Barrel% via Baseball Savant. These numbers indicate that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank hitting-wise. His career .802 OPS is a great sign that this could have just been a fluke down year, and his 4.3 fWAR in 2021 provides insight into his capacity as a ballplayer.
Remember, this is a player with multiple Silver Slugger awards, an All-Star nod, and some MVP placement votes. He’s no slouch.
So, what clubs seem like good fits?
Boston Red Sox
With Alex Verdugo being traded to rival New York, the Red Sox could use some more outfield help. Yes, I know Breslow has acquired Tyler O’Neill from St. Louis, but at the very least, Hernandez can transition to a part-time glove, part-time designated hitter.
Hernandez pulled more than half of his home runs this past season, and while the Green Monster stands about 37 feet tall, it’s a short porch. Cora could slide Hernandez into the 4 or 5 hole behind Devers, where he’d likely hit at least 15 over the monster, and 30 off of it for doubles. Just look at how Adam Duvall benefitted from it in 2023.
Boston has finished last in the AL East two seasons in a row now, and the Fenwat faithful are looking for more splashes. Rookie Chief of Baseball Operations Craig Breslow could be enthralled by Hernandez’s consistent track record and seems willing to spend.
It could be fun to poach an old AL East rival.
The AL Central can be compared to a highway rest stop. It is seemingly “always open”. Minnesota took the crown last season with just 87 wins and has lost a ton of players such as Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, and Emilio Pagan to free agency.
New manager Stephen Vogt is counting on their front office to improve from their disappointing 76-86 2023 campaign. The 2022 Central champs are looking to get back toward the top, and that starts with one thing:
Cleveland hit just 124 home runs over 162 games, averaging about 0.75 a game. The worst margin in baseball by 27. Hernandez could immediately boost their long ball totals, as he blasted 26 last year, and has 159 over his 8-year career.
This fit makes a lot of sense, as the Guardians are a small market team, and could be potentially buying low on Hernandez who had a down year. While they can’t afford bigger-named guys like Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman, Hernandez fits the bill. A
Interdivision rivals like the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers have all been uber-aggressive this winter, it’s time for Cleveland to start believing.