The Dodgers have expressed interest in Teoscar Hernández, reports Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times (X link). General manager Brandon Gomes told reporters this afternoon that a corner outfielder was among the items on the team’s offseason checklist (relayed by Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic).
Hernández is one of the higher-upside bats on a market light on free agent hitting. A two-time Silver Slugger award winner, he hit .283/.333/.519 for the Blue Jays between 2020-22. He hits the open market on the heels of an underwhelming platform season, however. After an offseason trade to the Mariners, Hernández put together a .258/.305/.435 line across 678 trips to the plate.
He’s still a solid source of right-handed power, connecting on 26 home runs this past season. It was an atypically streaky offensive performance, as excellent showings in June and August were muted by below-average play in the other four months. Seattle made the somewhat surprising decision not to issue Hernández a qualifying offer. Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto explained yesterday the club wanted to pivot in a more contact-oriented direction.
Even at his best, Hernández brings a lot of swing-and-miss. He fanned in 31.1% of his plate appearances this year and has gone down on strikes more than 28% of the time through the past four seasons. The profile is built more around power than strong on-base skills.
MLBTR nevertheless predicts Hernández to find a four-year pact that pays around $20MM annually, slotting him as the #12 free agent. He recently turned 31 and is arguably the #4 position player in the class behind Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman. Hernández has a bat-first reputation but logged nearly 1200 right field innings with Seattle, grading as a league average corner outfield defender by Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average.
Los Angeles can go in a number of directions on the position player front. They’re presently shorthanded in the corner outfield and designated hitter mix after Jason Heyward, J.D. Martinez and David Peralta reached free agency. L.A. will obviously be among the teams pursuing Ohtani and could look to bring Martinez and/or Heyward back depending on how the offseason progresses.
Mookie Betts showed the ability to play an effective second base in addition to his Gold Glove caliber outfield work. Gomes indicated the Dodgers would continue to get Betts into action at the keystone, noting that the club plans to give plenty of shortstop work to Gavin Lux. The 25-year-old infielder missed the entire season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during Spring Training. The Dodgers have glove-first veteran Miguel Rojas under contract but could kick him into a utility role if Lux steps into something approaching an everyday shortstop job.
Meanwhile, Gomes added that younger infielders Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch could find their way into the corner outfield (via Ardaya). They’ve each seen limited time in left field in the minors but are primarily second and third basemen. Neither player has hit well against MLB pitching in limited looks but they have accomplished offensive track records in Triple-A. Given the multi-positional flexibility throughout the roster, the Dodgers can go in a number of ways over the coming months.