The Los Angeles Dodgers continued what has been a busy offseason with another move on Sunday, signing Teoscar Hernandez to a one-year, $23.5 million contract. And of course, in classic Dodgers fashion, the team deferred $8.5 million of his salary to be paid out from 2030-2039.
Hernandez bolsters what already was a World Series-caliber lineup. With a left-handed heavy starting nine, Hernandez will add a much-needed right-handed presence that rakes against southpaws. In 841 plate appearances against lefties, Hernandez is slashing .275/.329/.557 for his career; the 31-year-old ranks 17th among the 126 active big leaguers with at least 800 plate appearances against southpaws in OPS.
Unlike Jason Heyward, Hernandez won't be a platoon-only outfielder and should be the team's everyday starting left fielder. Adding Hernandez to the everyday starting lineup is going to have a big ripple effect on the rest of the roster and is naturally going to lead to the departure of one fan favorite.
Teoscar Hernandez signing guarantees Dodgers will move on from Enrique Hernandez
The Dodgers traded for Enrique Hernandez at the 2023 deadline and it was a match made in heaven. Hernandez is one of the most popular Dodgers in recent history and gave the team a clutch right-handed bat to bring off the bench.
Heading into the offseason, it seemed plausible that the Dodgers could bring Kiké back. The super-utility player even said himself that he was more open to re-signing with the Dodgers than he was back in 2020 when he left to sign with the Boston Red Sox.
After this $23.5 million deal, there is no real need to bring Kiké back. Teoscar Hernandez is essentially replacing Chris Taylor (who struggled last season) as the everyday right-handed starter in left field. CT3 has now been moved back to his super-utility role and will only play against left-handed pitching. With Teoscar Hernandez in Taylor's old role and Taylor in Kiké's old role, there is no need for Kiké.
In addition to Taylor, the Dodgers also have right-handed hitting Manuel Margot, Miguel Rojas, and Austin Barnes all on the bench. Bringing back Kiké without letting one of Rojas or Barnes go would represent a troubling redundancy.
Kiké Hernandez's return to the Dodgers was a fruitful one and gave fans a fun stretch with a player they never thought would be back in Dodger blue. Now the Dodgers are on to bigger and better things and the team is undoubtedly better with Teoscar Hernandez in the fold.
It's for the best but ... it still doesn't feel good.
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