Hollander: Why Mariners targeted Hernández, what it means for Haniger
The Mariners’ first move of the offseason was a big one, acquiring two-time Silver Slugger and 2021 All-Star outfielder Teoscar Hernández from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Erik Swanson and lefty prospect Adam Macko.
So why was Hernández a target for the Mariners? Shortly after the deal was made official, GM Justin Hollander joined Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports 710 AM Wednesday morning to break it down.
“Because he hits the ball very, very, very hard,” Hollander said. “We’ve had interest in Teo for a long time. We actually got pretty close to a deal last spring training with the Blue Jays and we’ve been having a sort of ongoing dialogue with them for a while.”
Hernández ranked in the 94th percentile or better in baseball in average exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate, per Statcast, and is a big power threat from the right side of the plate.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) October 8, 2022
“He just fits. He fits our lineup,” Hollander said. “We really did want to lengthen the lineup and expand the impact that we had up and down the lineup. He fits well on the field. And every bit of research we’ve done says he’ll fit well culturally in our clubhouse. He’s supposed to be a great teammate, a great human being. I think he’ll fit well with our group.”
Hollander said the idea of adding Hernández to a lineup with Julio Rodríguez makes the Mariners a “pretty fearsome group to go through” early in the order. And he also doesn’t think playing at T-Mobile Park will impact Hernández’s production.
“I don’t really think the park effects or other things will be an issue coming to T-Mobile because of the way in which he hits the ball, the velocity angles, just the way he attacks the baseball,” Hollander said. “We’re pretty confident that it will translate really to any park. He’s among the more explosive bats in the league, just in terms of what happens when he makes impact with the ball. He barrels it a lot. He hits it as hard as anyone. We think he’ll be just fine in our environment.”
Hernández has played mostly right field in his career and the last few years, but he also has experience in left. Where could he wind up?
“We haven’t really locked that in. Some of that will be determined by what happens the rest of the offseason,” Hollander said. “I think he can play either of those spots, and I would anticipate him getting some DH days, too, depending on how our team shapes up. We know he can play right and left, and we know we have the DH spot, too. I think the biggest thing for us was what’s the best way for us to add a middle-of-the-order impact bat, and this checked all the boxes both on and off the field for us.”
The next question is whether Hernández coming to Seattle impacts the Mariners potentially reuniting with right fielder Mitch Haniger, who is currently a free agent.
“I don’t know that it means a lot. I’ve been in regular contact with Mitch’s agent. Jerry (Dipoto) and I both sat down with Mitch’s agent at the GM meetings and we spoke as recently as yesterday,” Hollander said “I don’t think it really changes a whole lot from that end. Obviously there are eventual limits on payroll and there are eventual limits on roster spots, but we are maintaining an open dialogue. I know that Mitch likely has a healthy market right now – that’s our understanding of it per his agent, and we expected that – and we told him we like to be a part of that. So I don’t know that it changes a lot for Mitch Haniger.”