Dodgers have strong internal options to replace Kiké Hernandez & Joc Pederson

The Dodgers lost two of their fixtures this past week as Enrique Hernandez signed with the Red Sox and Joc Pederson signed with the Cubs. Both were not expected to return, but it’s still bittersweet to see them go.

It’s nice that Hernandez and Pederson are going to get a chance to play every day with their new clubs, but it presents a small problem with the Dodgers. They’re going to have to find a way to replace their production — at least in the regular season. The Dodgers have prided themselves on having the best depth in the majors, and they have some viable replacements for Hernandez and Pederson.

——

Over the last two seasons, Hernandez has accounted for 6.39% and 7.32% of the team’s plate appearances, while Pederson has accounted for 5.96% and 8.18%. Both struggled during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, which could account for their diminished playing time. That could also be attributed to the acquisition of Mookie Betts, because both have spent some time in right field over the years. Both also came up big in the postseason, for the Dodgers, and it remains to be seen how that production will be replaced.

Hernandez, with the help of what I assume is the Dodgers’ video staff, tweeted this out.

And Chad tweeted this out about Joc.

Both will always have a place in the hearts of many Dodger fans.

As for replacing their plate appearances and defensive innings, there are a couple in-house candidates.

If you’re looking for a 1:1 replacement for Hernandez, you’re looking at Chris Taylor. Yes, he started a lot last season and was instrumental in the postseason at second base, but if everything goes the way the Dodgers want it, Gavin Lux will get the lion’s share of playing time at second base, with Taylor filling the Hernandez role. After that, you’re looking at Zach McKinstry, who is lauded by the organization. If Lux struggles or there are other injuries, McKinstry should get a good amount of playing time. If rosters are going to be set at 28, then McKinstry has an even better chance of breaking camp with the team.

For Pederson, it’s a bit more complicated. Matt Beaty is someone who could benefit from Pederson’s absence, while guys like Luke Raley and Zach Reks could end up getting a little showtime. But the one who could replace Pederson’s offensive production, even if he doesn’t strictly play the outfield, is Edwin Rios. Rios has produced — in a small sample size — in the majors and has the most power potential this side of Cody Bellinger. And as of now, he’s at the top of the Dodgers’ third base depth chart. With the Cardinals’ heist for Nolan Arenado this weekend, there’s no more excuse for them not re-signing Justin Turner. But I digress.

While other teams would struggle to replace guys like Hernandez and Pederson, the Dodgers have enough quality depth to do so with internal options. And if those internal options struggle, the Dodgers will always be looking to upgrade, should the opportunity arise.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.