LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers' impressive offseason got even better late Sunday night, as the club and All-Star outfielder Teoscar Hernandez agreed to a one-year, $23.5 million contract, sources confirmed to MLB.com. The club did not confirm the deal.
Even after adding Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and Manuel Margot, the Dodgers were in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder who could hit lefties and hold up against right-handed pitching.
Hernandez has been identified as an early target for the Dodgers this winter. The two-time Silver Slugger had plenty of other offers, including two-year deals from the Red Sox and Angels, according to sources, but ultimately decided to ink a one-year deal with the Dodgers to be part of what should be one. One of the most important offenses in the major leagues, and perhaps the best.
Hernandez is a consistent source of energy, one of 12 players to reach at least 25 homers in each of the past four full seasons. That includes 26 players from last year with the Mariners, who he joined after an offseason trade from Toronto. However, his 2023 season did not live up to the expectations of a player who received MVP votes and was a Silver Slugger winner in 2020 and 2021.
No matter the pitch, one thing Hernandez has always excelled at is left-handed hitting, with a career .887 OPS against southpaws. With the Dodgers, Hernandez will get most of the starts in right field against lefties and slide into left field against righties, with Mookie Betts planning to play most of his games at second base. Chris Taylor will also get to bat as a utility man this season.
With Hernandez on board, the Dodgers likely won't add any more players this winter. The club has explored options in short order, but nothing has materialized through a trade, especially to the Brewers for Willy Adames.
After recording a wRC+ of 130 or better in each of his final three years with the Blue Jays, Hernandez had a 105 wRC+ with the Mariners. His weighted on-base average fell for the third straight year, to .336, and his .741 OPS was his lowest since his 2016 debut with the Astros. Hernandez saw just 100 at bats with Houston before being dealt to the Blue Jays before the 2017 trade deadline.
Playing discipline has never been Hernandez's forte, and that was especially true last season. His chase rate was the worst of his career at 35.2 percent. He posted a career-low walk rate of 5.6% against a strikeout rate of 31.1 percent. His 211 K and 35.8% whiff rate was near the top among eligible players.
Hernandez often stung the ball when he made contact, as evidenced by his 49.4 percent hard-hit rate and 13.8 percent hard-hit rate. The 31-year-old has punished his four-seam fastball with a .302 average, a .659 slugging percentage and a very high 72.4% strikeout rate.
He's not an elite defender, but Hernandez provides value in the outfield with his strong, accurate arm in right field. His 12 assists were tied for third among all outfielders last season, and his 22 assists over the past two seasons trail only the Nationals' Lane Thomas.
Hernandez's most productive full season to date came in '21, when he racked up 32 homers, drove in 116 runs and compiled a .296/.346/.524 slash line with Toronto.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”