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Smash or Pass: Teoscar Hernández

He’s a player that Sox fans would love, but do we need another OF/DH right now?

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Cincinnati Reds Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Smash or Pass, a new offseason series in which we’ll examine various free agents and trade targets to determine whether they make sense for the Red Sox. Today, we’re discussing Teoscar Hernández.

Who is he and where does he come from?

His name is Teoscar Hernández; he’s two years removed from an All-Star season and he’s won two Silver Slugger Awards (all of those accolades are from his time with Toronto). He played for the Seattle Mariners in 2023 and for the Astros and Blue Jays previously.

What position does he play?

Hernández is a 31-year-old (Happy belated birthday, Teo! It was last Sunday) right fielder (135 games in 2023), who also played 28 games at DH. He’s a right-handed hitter who typically bats in the middle of the batting order.

Is he any good?

It might depend on when you’re asking this question…he’s known for starting the season cold. Many have called him “streaky” while others swear that the stats don’t bear that out.

He was the Mariners’ biggest splash in the 2022 offseason but it wasn’t until June that the signing truly felt like it was going to pay off. That’s when he dropped his strikeout rate significantly and nearly tripled his walk rate. When he’s on, he’s spraying line drives all over the field, but when he’s not, he strikes out a lot. He went on a tear in June, then again in August/September. The Mariners general manager Justin Hollander himself said that “[Teo] carried us for a six-week stretch this summer.”

Teoscar Hernandez’s hits spray chart for 2023.
Teo’s hits spray chart per Baseball Savant.
Baseball Savant

You can bank on him for at least 20 home runs, and he had a 30-game on-base streak in August/September. He finished third in MLB with 211 strikeouts.

He’s reliable and has no injury history to speak of. He’s played at least 120 games in every full season of his entire career.

His defense is okay, but teams will look to add him for his bat, not his defense. He recorded one DRS and no OAA but he has a decent arm (89th percentile in Arm Value and 78th percentile in Arm Strength per Baseball Savant) and can run well (82nd percentile in Sprint Speed).

My favorite though: Hernández had no errors on the season – that would be something, wouldn’t it!?

Tl;dr, just give me his 2023 stats.

160 G, 678 PA, .258/ .305/.435, 26 HR, 93 RBI, 70 R, 7 SB, 5.6/31.1 BB/K%, 105 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR

Would he be a good fit for the 2024 Red Sox?

Yes…and no. He is beloved by fans (except during those cold starts) and respected by teammates, his manager, and the front office. Not all of our current outfielders can say that, can they? He’s capable of putting a team on his back and the Sox could certainly use someone like that. So could the fans; we’re hungry for players to love, like, really love. Teo can be one of those guys. He has some awesome highlight reels both offensively and defensively, and the Sox could use that too. He’s fun as hell to watch when he’s on. The problem is that we already have a plethora of outfielder/DH types.

What will he cost? puts Teo’s market value at $16.5 million and projects a contract of four years for about $66 million. He’s one of the better hitters in the free agent class this year, so he’ll be in demand and could possibly get more.

Show me a cool highlight.

How’s this catch?

Maybe you’d rather see a home run?

Smash or pass?

I’m a verrry reluctant pass. Would I love to see him swap out for Verdugo? Absolutely. But I can’t see how finessing the logjam in the outfield and DH positions can help the Sox right now. If, probably when, he leaves the Mariners (Jerry Dipoto has said the decision has already been made but they won’t speak publicly about it), we’ll miss him here in Seattle. I would love to see him on the Sox, but ultimately this doesn’t feel like the right time as we need to focus on our true areas of need. Gosh, I’d love to be wrong, though.