Dodgers sign OF Teoscar Hernandez to 1-year, $23.5 million deal, fill right-handed masher need

A couple days ago, Dustin did a post about the remaining need the Dodgers have for a right-handed outfielder. Moment ago, the team team filled that need with one of the top options in Teoscar Hernandez, inking him to a one-year, $23.5 million deal with $8.5 million of that deferred.

So basically, the internal options for the right-handed outfielder spot were acceptable but not great. Manuel Margot, Chris Taylor, Miguel Vargas, and other prospects plus organizational depth. Ideally, they’d upgrade with somebody who can mash lefties in a platoon, and that’s what they get in Hernandez.


The 31-year-old Hernandez has been consistently linked to the Dodgers for a couple months now. The slugger had an excellent three-year stretch with the Blue Jays from 2020-22, posting a .283/.333/.519/.852 line with a 133 wRC+. However, after being traded to the Mariners in 2023, he fell off to a .258/.305/.435/.741 line and a 105 wRC+. There’s some concern about aging in that regression, but he had an expected slugging about 40 points higher than his actual, along with a still-great 90th percentile hard-hit rate and 88th percentile barrel rate. Both of those should play better in Dodger Stadium, where home run power is a much better fit (2nd) than T-Mobile Park (18th), and there’s always the hope that he’ll bounceback under the Dodgers and hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc.

Most importantly for this team, he smashes lefties no matter what. He is 115 points of OPS better against lefties in his career to the tune of .275/.329/.557/.887 and a 136 wRC+, and even during his 2023 struggles, he was still good against lefties at a .287/.307/.511/.817 rate for a 120 wRC+. Since 2020, he ranks 7th in the majors with a 161 wRC+ and a .312/.346/.626/.972 line against southpaws, so Teoscar is arguably one of the best options they could’ve chosen.

Additionally, for a slugging corner outfielder type, he’s also been surprisingly solid defensively, checking in as about average in the field last year and below-average at his worst. He has a strong arm and good speed, but struggles with routes at times, and it’s possible that improved positioning there could help him a lot.

The combination of Hernandez’s attributes has helped make him a consistent 2-3 WAR player, so they’re paying him about market rate … but only for a single year. That’s relevant because a lot of the negativity surrounding the possibility of adding Teoscar was due to his rumored contract of 4+ years and $20+ million, but knowing that he’ll actually get just one year at that rate (with deferred money at that) makes all the difference in the world. Now there’s less concern about how he’ll age or whether he’ll block other moves going forward, and there’s no doubt he makes the 2023 team look better, especially against southpaws. On these terms, he makes the most sense out of the remaining options, providing outfield depth, a lefty killer, and a player who has a history of being an above-average regular. Perhaps most importantly, he’s exactly what Andrew Friedman seemed to have been seeking out.

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