Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto wasted little time making his first huge splash on the commerce market this offseason, because the Mariners introduced Wednesday that they’ve acquired the All-Star proper fielder Teoscar Hernandez from the Blue Jays in alternate for setup man Eric Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko.
Hernandez, who turned 30 a month in the past, will give the Mariners a heart-of-the-order slugger who posted a stout .283/.333/.519 batting line with 73 house runs and 71 doubles by 1337 plate appearances over the previous three seasons. Hernandez has been a Statcast darling because the time of his huge league debut, frequently posting top-of-the-scale exit velocity and hard-hit charges; that was no completely different in 2022, when Statcast ranked him within the 94th percentile or higher in hard-hit charge, common exit velocity, max exit velocity, barrel charge and anticipated slugging proportion.
That penchant for elite contact and plus energy output from Hernandez comes at one thing of a price. While he is curbed his once-sky-high strikeout totals to an extent, Hernandez nonetheless fanned in 28.4% of his plate appearances final season. He obtained the strikeout charge all the way in which right down to 24.9% in 2021, so there’s maybe hope for some additional beneficial properties, however as of proper now that quantity is an outlier with regard to the remainder of his profession. His stroll charge, in the meantime, has steadily clocked in between six and 7 % over the previous few seasons — bit shy of the league common.
Beyond the massive energy, Hernandez possesses misleading velocity. He’s solely tallied 24 steals (in 32 tries) over the previous three seasons, together with simply six in 2022, however Hernandez’s dash velocity ranks within the 84th percentile of MLB gamers, per Statcast. With barely bigger bases anticipated to maybe spur a bit extra operating in 2023, Hernandez is among the many many gamers who might conceivably begin to take off with a bit extra frequency. Hernandez can also be identified for having one of many recreation’s strongest throwing arms. Despite that velocity and arm energy, nevertheless, he attracts constantly below-average grades for his glovework in proper area; Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average have pegged him as a damaging defender in every of the previous 4 seasons. In 2022, he tallied minus-3 DRS, minus-5 OAA and a minus-3.1 Ultimate Zone Rating.
Even if his velocity and arm do not translate to plus proper area protection, Hernandez has been a properly above-average all-around participant in recent times, when trying on the sum of his elements. Both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference peg him proper at eight wins above substitute in his previous 324 video games. Those 324 video games have come throughout three seasons, though one was the shortened 2020 marketing campaign. Generally talking, Hernandez has averted main accidents. He missed three weeks this season on account of an indirect pressure and was sidelined in 2021 by a optimistic Covid check (plus three video games on the paternity listing). Overall, nevertheless, he is performed in 84.3% of his crew’s doable video games since 2020.
Barring an extension, Hernandez might be a one-year rental for the Mariners — and a comparatively costly one, at that. Hernandez will attain six years of service time in 2023 and grow to be a free agent subsequent winter. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz initiatives a sizeable $14.1MM wage for him this season.
Dipoto stated eventually week’s GM Meetings that he sought a minimum of one outfield improve this winter, if not two. Hernandez ought to slot into proper area alongside middle fielder and AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, however his presence in Seattle creates some extra questions. The membership opted to not make a qualifying supply Mitch Hanigeras an illustration, and whereas Hernandez’s acquisition would not squarely rule out Haniger returning to rotate by the outfield corners and DH, in the present day’s commerce inherently makes a reunion really feel much less probably.
The Mariners should decide whether or not they’re snug with a mixture of former prime prospects Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis and Taylor Trammell in left area. Jesse Winker is one other left area/DH possibility, though as of yesterday, the Mariners had been discussing commerce packages involving Winker. It’s straightforward sufficient to examine that group, with some assist from utilitymen Dylan Moore and Sam Haggertyholding down the fort within the corners and at DH, however additional additions should not be dominated out.
The Mariners, in spite of everything, are squarely in win-now mode. And even with Hernandez aboard, they’ve ample payroll capability; buying Hernandez is an approximate $12.7MM web add to the payroll, as Swanson had been projected by Swartz to be paid $1.4MM. They’re projected by Roster Resource for a $143.5MM payroll following the swap, and that is a methods shy of the $162MM peak they trotted out in 2018. A return to the playoffs has probably boosted income a bit, and MLB has agreed to varied profitable streaming offers that afford every crew appreciable annual payouts within the 5 years since that beforehand established report payroll.
Turning to the Blue Jays’ aspect of the deal, they’re going to concurrently add a much-needed energy arm to the bullpen and shed that aforementioned (and approximate) $12.7MM in payroll. They’re nonetheless projected for what can be a franchise-record Opening Day payroll within the $176MM vary, however the commerce offers them some extra flexibility whereas including a vital arm to the aid combine. Swanson, initially acquired by the Mariners within the commerce that despatched James Paxton to the Yankees, struggled as a starter however has damaged out as a powerhouse within the Seattle bullpen.
The 3.31 ERA, 24.3% strikeout charge and 6.9% stroll charge Swanson logged in 35 1/3 innings in the course of the 2021 season had been a step in that path, nevertheless it wasn’t till this previous season that he turned a dominant late-inning drive . Swanson’s 2022 marketing campaign resulted in 53 2/3 innings of 1.68 ERA ball with an enormous 34% strikeout charge towards only a 4.9% stroll charge. In all, since establishing himself in 2021, Swanson owns a 2.33 ERA in 89 innings of aid — a mark that’s largely supported by fielding-independent metrics (2.59 FIP, 2.87 SIERA).
Swanson is an excessive fly-ball pitcher, so some could have concern about his transition from a pitcher-friendly setting at T-Mobile Park to the homer-happy confines of Toronto’s Rogers Centre, however the reality is that only a few of the fly- balls he yields are hit with authority. Among the 385 pitchers with a minimum of 80 innings over the previous two seasons, Swanson has induced infield pop-ups on the sixth-best charge in MLB.
Swanson was additionally a batted-ball deity on the mound in 2022, rating close to the highest of the league when it comes to common exit velocity (98th percentile), hard-hit charge (96th), anticipated ERA and wOBA (97th), anticipated slugging proportion (94th), total strikeout charge (96th) and opponents’ chase charge on pitches off the plate (93rd). He is probably not a family identify, however for the 2022 season a minimum of, Swanson can lay declare to legitimately being one among MLB’s most dominant relievers.
Unlike Hernandez, who’ll be a free agent subsequent winter, Swanson is a comparatively long-term piece for the Blue Jays. With three-plus years of Major League service time below his belt, he’s controllable by the 2025 season. And, as a result of his breakout was of the “late blooming” selection, he did not construct up the kind of lengthy monitor report that may reward him handsomely in his first journey by the arbitration course of. The Jays will virtually actually pay Swanson much less over the following three seasons than they’d have paid Hernandez in 2023 alone.
It’s the identical timeline to free company shared by Toronto nearer Jordan Romanowho’s additionally managed by 2025. Swanson figures to function the first setup choice to Romano, although he’ll be joined by veterans Yimi Garcia, Anthony Bass, Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza in what already seems to be like a deeper and extra formidable aid corps.
Also heading to Toronto within the commerce is the left-handed Macko, a big addition to the crew’s prospect base. Baseball America and FanGraphs each rated the 21-year-old as Seattle’s eighth-best prospect, touting his curveball as anyplace from a plus pitch (60-grade, FanGraphs) to a plus-plus (70, Baseball America) providing on the 20 -80 scales. His fastball is one other above-average providing, climbing as excessive as 98 mph, and his slider offers him the potential for a 3rd common or higher pitch.
Injuries — most notably a shoulder difficulty — and spotty command have been pink flags in Macko’s growth to this point. He pitched simply 38 1/3 frames at High-A in 2022, logging a 3.99 ERA with an enormous 35.9% strikeout charge but in addition a regarding 12% stroll charge. It’s a pair of main “ifs,” but when Macko can get wholesome and refine his command to even simply shy of league common, the potential for a high quality huge league starter is current. Failing that, the fastball velocity and wipeout breaking pitch have apparent late-inning aid potential. Baseball America’s scouting report on Macko notes that he was one of many Mariners’ most sought-after targets in current commerce talks, too, and the Jays themselves might very properly be requested about him in talks with different groups shifting ahead.
Overall, buying and selling a preferred and gregarious middle-of-the-order hitter for a reliever, even an ostensibly wonderful one, could possibly be a tricky capsule for Jays followers to swallow. That stated, there’s clear potential to return out forward within the gambit, as they’re going to add three years of a bargain-priced, high-end reliever and a prospect with potential to rapidly stand up nationwide rankings with some higher luck within the well being division . The $12MM+ in payroll financial savings figures to be reallocated to free-agent pursuits or maybe to extra targets on the commerce market, too, so this might be however one step in a layered course of that might in the end profit each groups.
As for the Mariners, they’re going to add a thunderous bat to the center of a lineup that additionally consists of Rodriguez, Ty France and Eugene Suarez. Dipoto and his costs, nevertheless, determine to proceed so as to add to the lineup as they search to take the Mariners past the ALDS heights they reached in 2022. Parting with Swanson thins out the bullpen, though Seattle is deep in that regard. Parting with Macko subtracts one more high quality prospect from a farm system that has been depleted, however not emptied, by current commerce exercise (Luis Castillo, most notably). That stated, even when the M’s cannot prolong Hernandez, he’ll be a transparent qualifying supply candidate subsequent offseason, so they might probably recoup a 2024 draft choose within the occasion that he proves to be a one-and-done case in Seattle. And for the tie being, there isn’t any denying that the crew’s 2023 lineup seems to be decidedly extra formidable with Hernandez aboard.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported that Hernandez had been traded to Seattle (Twitter hyperlink). TSN’s Scott Mitchell reported that the Jays had been getting bullpen assist, and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times first reported the precise names concerned.