The Dodgers went out and signed yet another top free agent. Surprise, surprise.
As they continue to utterly dominate this offseason, Los Angeles agreed to a one-year, $23.5 million deal with right-handed outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. It’s worth noting that only $15 million of the deal will be paid to him in 2024, with the rest to be deferred and paid out from 2030 to 2039.
It feels hard to believe that the Dodgers are still spending money to improve this roster but here we are and nothing should shock people at this point.
After inking the reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, the reigning NPB MVP Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and trading for star pitcher Tyler Glasnow, the Dodgers have now added another powerful bat to their lineup.
With a stacked roster already intact, one of the only spots that could even have been considered a weakness was the outfield in Los Angeles. Mookie Betts is set to become the full-time second baseman for the Dodgers next season after playing there for portions of 2023, which leaves more opening in the outfield.
James Outman had a strong rookie season, but Chris Taylor and Jason Heyward aren’t necessarily everyday starters at this stage of their career. They just acquired Manuel Margot as well but he is the perfect bench outfield piece. Enter Teoscar.
Hernandez was one of the more consistent power outfield bats in baseball from 2020 to 2022 but regressed in 2023, while struggling to produce at his new home stadium in Seattle.
After posting a 133 wRC+ in the his last three seasons with Toronto, Hernandez fell to just a 105 mark in 2023, despite hitting 26 home runs.
His home and road splits are extremely drastic though, which indicates he could be a prime bounce-back candidate once getting away from playing in the pitcher-friendly T-Mobile Park. Hernandez could also thrive even more in a loaded lineup.
Hernandez posted an OPS of .830 on the road last season and will likely slot into the fifth or sixth spot in a Dodgers’ lineup stacked with All-Stars across the board.
This now allows for Heyward, Taylor, and Margot to essentially split the last outfield spot with one of them also being able to replace Outman in lineups against left-handed pitchers. From top to bottom, the lineup in Los Angeles is beyond stacked with superstars all over the field.
Furthermore, the lineup in Los Angeles is rather left-handed heavy and Hernandez adds some more balance to the lineup as another everyday right-handed hitter.
With so many talented hitters, having a pure power bat in Hernandez is a risk the Dodgers can afford to take right now. He has never been a hitter who walks much and he struck out a career-high 211 times last season but his power could emerge even further behind multiple of the best hitters in the game.
The Dodgers have proved to everyone that money is not an object to them and they will continue to fill out their roster any way they seek fit this offseason.
The only potential hole in their lineup has been filled and Hernandez has the chance to improve his value drastically as part of baseball’s best team before he enters free agency once again next winter.
There is still a good chance the Dodgers aren’t done yet as they could re-sign Clayton Kershaw still or add another piece to the back-end of their already strong bullpen. This juggernaut is moving forward and they still might not be done.