Andrew Friedman will be tasked with making many moves this offseason, one of which will be finding a left fielder. But the latest reports don't necessarily suggest that'll be their primary focus. A couple of Los Angeles Dodgers insiders have said the team will be seeking a "corner outfielder."
The Dodgers do value flexibility, but are they really going to continue using Mookie Betts in the infield? Though the results were nothing short of excellent in 2023, that's simply not a sustainable long-term plan. He's the most important player on the team and is arguably the best right fielder in the game. There's little reason to keep having him move all over the place defensively, especially for a team that can afford not to do that.
That could be part of the concern with the Dodgers' reported interest in slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who just wrapped up his lone year with the Seattle Mariners after three straight All-Star-caliber seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hernandez is primarily a right fielder, and though he has 236 career games under his belt in left, he hasn't played there consistently since 2021 (and he logged a weak .957 fielding percentage at the position that season). Before that? 2019, with a .966 fielding percentage. Defensive metrics have never been kind to the veteran, even in right field, so why risk shifting him to a position he's less comfortable playing?
It's either that, or give him more reps in right field as Betts continues to play the emergency middle infield rover depending on how LA solves that offseason dilemma.
Dodgers' rumored interest in Teoscar Hernandez comes with a few notable concerns
Hernandez has never logged a positive dWAR. For his career, across the outfield, he's logged -24 Defensive Runs Saved and -24 Outs Above Average. The Dodgers don't necessarily need a sterling defender, but if they're going to get someone they want to be versatile, they have to be better than that.
On the offensive side of the ball, while Hernandez boasts good power numbers (he's hit at least 25 home runs across his last four full seasons and belted 16 in the shortened 2020), he strikes out a ton (29.7% of the time) and barely walks (7% of the time, with a career-low 5.6% coming in 2023).
The Dodgers have enough strikeout issues with Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and James Outman. They don't need another starter whiffing at an insane rate, especially if the defense isn't great and if the offense isn't comparable to what JD Martinez had to offer in his lone year with the Dodgers.
Pending the free agent cost, our stance here can obviously change. Hernandez at a bargain is a different story. But he's heading into his age-31 season and coming off a strong finish to the 2023 campaign after a terribly slow start, so it's doubtful he'll be "cheap."
And even if he is, he offers a lot of redundancies this Dodgers team can't afford to further inherit, which is probably why the team is considering using Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch in the corner outfield spots at the moment.