Dodgers: Joe Kelly talking importance of Kiké Hernandez after departure is a tough listen
Kiké Hernandez leaving the Dodgers was difficult enough for LA fans.
When the Boston Red Sox officially signed Enrique Hernández to a two-year, $14 million deal, the gut punch was finally delivered to Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Everyone knew he’d probably be departing in free agency, but the news confirming it made it all the more upsetting.
We talked about how his departure now makes the return of Justin Turner even more important given both of these veterans’ contributions on the field, but more significantly in the dugout and clubhouse. Hernandez has been among the more obvious “glue guys” in the league based on his jovial personality and timely/scrappy play.
It’s unlikely most Dodgers fans underestimated his presence and contributions, but reliever Joe Kelly touched upon why having a guy like Kiké is so important for any franchise looking to contend for a World Series.
"“The teams that are smart know, the teams that win,” Kelly said of front offices who value players like Hernandez. “Usually former baseball players or managers who have played the game, they know it, so when they become managers they make sure to have a guy like that on their team. You need the vocal guy, you need the guy that brings energy, because not every time the manager is going to do that.”"
Long story short, it won’t be easy replacing a guy like that, especially since he’s been with the team since 2015 and has largely been integral since 2017. Remember his incredible 2017 NLCS against the Cubs? And his efforts that fueled the Dodgers’ comeback in the 2020 NLCS against the Braves? You don’t just replicate that production out of thin air.
The fact of the matter is that Los Angeles couldn’t offer Hernandez something closer to a full-time role, given their surplus of talent. At 29 years old, and based on the way he’s performed overall the past four seasons, he deserved that in his first time hitting free agency.
As for the Dodgers — we don’t mean to be pessimistic — but there’s likely going to be a discernible difference in the clubhouse and dugout now that he’s gone.