Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Depoto wasted little time in making his first big market appearance this offseason, as the Mariners announced Wednesday that they had acquired an All-Star right fielder. Teuscar Hernandez Blue Jays vs. setup man Eric Swanson and promotion Adam Mako.
Hernandez, who turned 30 a month ago, will give the Mariners a solid first-rate player who hits a solid streak. Three seasons. Hernandez has been a Statcast darling since his big-league time, regularly posting top-level walkout speed and hard-hit rates; It wasn’t any different in 2022, when Statcast rated it at the 94th percentile or better in hit rate, average exit speed, maximum exit speed, barrel rate and projected slack percentage.
It should be noted that this penchant for elite contact as well as power generation from Hernandez comes at a cost. While he held back sky-high hitting totals somewhat, Hernandez still racked up 28.4% of his plate appearances last season. His entire strike rate is down to 24.9% in 2021, so maybe there’s hope for more wins, but as of right now, that number is an anomaly for the rest of his career. His walk rate, meanwhile, has steadily averaged between six and seven percent over the past few seasons—somewhat shy of the league average.
Combined with massive power potential, Hernandez possesses deceptive speed. He’s recorded just 24 steals (in 32 attempts) over the past three seasons, including just six in 2022, but Hernandez’s sprinting speed ranks in the 84th percentile of MLB players, according to Statcast. With slightly larger bases expected to spur a bit more home runs in 2023, Hernandez is among the many players who could conceivably start to take off at a slightly greater pace. Hernandez is also known to have one of the strongest throwing arms in the game. Despite this speed and arm strength, he consistently draws below average scores for glove work in right field; Defensive points saved and an above-average Outa have tied him as a passive defenseman in each of the past four seasons. In 2022, it scores -3 DRS, minus -5 OAA and -3.1 Ultimate Zone Rating.
Even if his speed and arm don’t translate into true field defense, Hernandez has been a well above average all-around player in recent years, when looking at the sum of his parts. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference both directly tie him with eight wins above replacement in his past 324 games. Those 324 games have gone through three seasons, though one of them was the abbreviated 2020 season. In general, Hernandez has avoided major injuries. He missed three weeks this season due to an oblique strain and was sidelined for 2021 with a positive Covid test (plus a few games on the paternity list). However, he has generally played in 84.3% of his team’s potential matches since 2020.
Barring an extension, Hernandez would be a one-year lease to the Mariners — and relatively pricey, at the time. Hernandez will reach six years of service in 2023 and become a free agent next winter. Projects MLBTR contributor Matt Schwartz His salary is $14.1 million this season.
Dipoto said at GM meetings last week that he has sought at least one upgrade this winter, if not two. Hernandez should go in right field along with the quarterback Julio Rodriguez, but his presence in Seattle raises some additional questions. The club chose not to make a qualifying bid Mitch Hanigerfor example, while Hernandez’s acquisition doesn’t directly rule out Haniger’s return to spinning through outside corners, the day’s trade makes a reunion less likely.
The sailors will have to determine if they are comfortable with a group of previous high profile clients Jared KilinickAnd the Kyle Lewis And the Taylor Trammell in left field. Jesse Winker He is another left field/DH option, although the Mariners have been as of yesterday Discuss trade packages involving Winker. It’s easy to visualize that group, with some help from the utility guys Dylan Moore And the Sam Hagertywhile still keeping pressure on horsepower in the corners and at DH, but further additions should not be ruled out.
After all, the Mariners are in a winning position right now. And even with Hernandez on board, they have great payroll potential; Hernandez’s acquisition is a roughly $12.7 million net addition to the payroll, with Schwartz expecting Swanson to pay $1.4 million. they projected For a $143.5 million payroll post-trade, that’s way shy of the peak of $162 million they made in 2018. Returning to the playoffs probably boosted revenue a bit, and MLB has agreed several lucrative broadcast deals that provide each team with huge sums of money. Big money in the five years since the previous record payroll.
Going over to the Blue Jays side of the deal, they would simultaneously add a much needed strong arm to the to-do list and lose the aforementioned (and approximate) $12.7 million in payroll. The franchise’s record opening day payroll is still expected to be in the $176 million range, but the trade gives them more flexibility while adding a critical arm to the relief mix. Swanson, originally acquired by the Mariners in the sent trade James Paxton To the Yankees, he struggled as a rookie but broke out as an absolute powerhouse in the Seattle bullpen.
The 3.31 ERA, 24.3% strikeout rate, and 6.9% walk rate that Swanson struck in 35 1/3 innings pitched during the 2021 season was a step in that direction, but even last season he became a late dominant force. . Swanson’s 2022 campaign yielded 53 2/3 innings off 1.68 balls of the modern era with a massive 34% strikeout rate against a walk rate of just 4.9%. All in all, since his inception in 2021, Swanson has a 2.33 ERA in 89 innings of relief — a mark largely supported by fielding-independent metrics (2.59 FIP, 2.87 SIERA).
Swanson is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, so some might have qualms about his transition from a pitcher-friendly environment at T-Mobile Park to the Homer-Happy confines of Toronto’s Rogers Center, but the truth is that very few of the fly-balls he produces hit with power. Among 385 pitchers with at least 80 home runs over the past two seasons, Swanson has hit pop-ups at the sixth-best average in MLB.
Swanson was also a batball god on the mound in 2022, ranking near the top of the league in average strikeouts (98th percentile), strikeout rate (96), “expected” ERA and WOBA scores (97), “Expected” slugging percentage (94th), total strikeout rate (96th) and opponents’ chasing rate on pitches outside the plate (93rd). He may not be a household name, but for the 2022 season at least, Swanson could lay claim to being one of MLB’s most popular relievers.
Unlike Hernandez, who will be a free agent next winter, Swanson is a relatively long-running piece for the Blue Jays. With more than three years of major league service time under his belt, he’s doable through the 2025 season. And since his breakout was the “late boom” kind, he didn’t build the kind of long-running record that would reward him handsomely on his first outing. during the arbitration process. The Jays will almost certainly pay Swanson less over the next three seasons than they paid Hernandez in 2023 alone.
It’s the same free agent schedule that toronto shares closer Jordan Romanowho also took control of him during 2023. Swanson characters to serve as Romano’s primary setup option, though he will be joined by veterans Yemi GarciaAnd the Anthony BassAnd the Adam Simper And the Maiza Team In what really appears as a deeper and more wonderful relief.
Also heading to Toronto in the trade is left fielder Macko, an important addition to the team’s potential base. Baseball America and FanGraphs both rated the 21-year-old as the eighth-best Seattle prospect, pitching his curveball anywhere from extra pitch (pitch 60, FanGraphs) to plus-plus (70, Baseball America) Displayed at 20 -80 scale. His fastball is another above-average offering, topping out at 98 mph, and his slider gives him the potential for a third score or better.
Injuries – most notably a shoulder problem – and spotty orders have been some of the red flags in the Mako’s development so far. He pitched just 38 1/3 frames at High-A in 2022, recording a 3.99 ERA with a whopping 35.9% strikeout rate but also an alarming 12% walk rate. It’s a pair of major “ifs,” but if Macko can get healthy and hone his drive for even just a mid-league shyness, the potential for a high-quality big league start is there. Failing that, his fastball speed and pitch breaking have obvious relief potential in the late inning. Baseball’s scouting report on Mako indicates that he was one of the Mariners’ most sought-after targets in recent trade talks as well, and the Jays could also be asked about him in talks with other teams moving forward.
In general, trading a popular, collegiate hitter in the middle of the order for a reliever, even if he is outwardly excellent, can be a hard pill for a Jays fan to swallow. However, there is distinct potential for the maneuver going forward, adding three years of affordable bargaining, high-end diluted and the prospect of quickly moving up the national rating with some better luck in the MOH. The $12M+ in payroll savings figures will be reallocated to free agent chases or possibly additional targets in the commercial market as well, so this will only be one step in a multi-layered process that can ultimately benefit both teams.
As for the Mariners, they will add a resounding bat to the core of a lineup that also includes Rodriguez, Ty France And the Eugene Suarez, in this time. However, Dipoto and company will continue to add to the lineup as they seek to take the Mariners beyond the ALDS heights they reached in 2022. A breakup with Swanson is lightening the matter, though Seattle is deep in that regard, and her breakup with Macko raises a possibility. another for the quality of the farm system which has been somewhat depleted by recent commercial activity (Louis Castillo, the most we can talk about). Still, even if the M’s can’t extend Hernandez, he’ll be an obvious candidate for a qualifying offer in the upcoming offseason, so they can redeem the 2024 draft should he prove to be a one-and-done case in Seattle.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported that Hernandez was traded to Seattle (Twitter link). TSN’s Scott Mitchell mentioned That the Jays were getting a big assist, Ryan Davis of the Seattle Times first mentioned The specific names involved.