BROCK AND SALK

Dipoto: What Teoscar Hernández brings that the Mariners’ lineup needs

Nov 17, 2022, 11:01 AM

Mariners Teoscar Hernandez...

Teoscar Hernandez celebrates after hitting a double against the New York Yankees Sept. 26, 2022. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)

(Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Mariners kicked off their offseason in a major way, acquiring two-time Silver Slugger outfielder Teoscar Hernández from the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Morosi breaks down Hernández to the Mariners, what’s next for Seattle

Hernández, 30, has been one of the best sluggers in baseball the last three seasons and figures to hit in the middle of Seattle’s lineup in 2023.

So what does president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto think about the move? He dove into the trade and the fit of Hernandez with the Mariners during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“Pretty happy,” Dipoto said. “Teoscar has been a guy who’s been on our radar for about a year now, and (this was) not the first time we’ve inquired on him, but obviously this time we were able to get it done and bring him to Seattle. Really big impact in our lineup. His carrying tool is his bat. It’s a big-time power bat for the middle of our lineup, which was a goal of ours this offseason.”

While Hernández will strike out, Dipoto said that’s the tradeoff for his elite power and run production. Getting someone in the mix to drive in runs like Hernández can was key this offseason, Dipoto stressed.

“When I talk about the foundation of our club, I think one of the things that allows us to go out and improve our (slugging) and improve our ability to hit the ball over the fence – which frankly, we were pretty good at to begin with – is that we were second in the league and walks,” Dipoto said. “We will get on base. Getting on base is something that we will do as a lineup. Now we need to improve our run scoring.”

The Mariners have “a number of players” who can get on base, dominate the zone and work walks, Dipoto said, but they needed someone like Hernández to “sweep the floor” when guys are on base, which is something the M’s didn’t do a great job of last season.

“That’s where Teoscar comes in. As you know, he’s been a run producer for the entirety of his career, and we anticipate that he’ll do that here,” he said.

The Mariners’ top offseason priority was lengthening the lineup and making it more dangerous, and adding Hernández goes a long way in that regard.

“He is a metronome for doing damage, and we want to make sure that we continue to focus on ways that we can make our team more complete,” Dipoto said. “And right now I feel like one through five or one through six in our lineup, we can stack up with just about anybody, and we want to continue to go further. Some of that’s going to happen with the maturation of younger players within our house, and some of it’s going to be with opportunities that may arise in the next few months.”

Was Hernández the Mariners’ top overall target this offseason?

“Yes – he was, in terms of trade targets, for sure the guy that we had in our in our sights,” Dipoto said. ” … What you’ve seen publicly with the Blue Jays’ desire to get a little bit more left-handed (in the lineup) was information that we had internally as well. And therefore, we sought the match because he was the obvious candidate with one year left of club control and we feel like it’s a huge difference (for our lineup).”

Hernández is signed through just 2023, but Dipoto said he doesn’t want to limit Hernandez’s Seattle tenure to just one season.

“We want to be open-minded to what happens as we move out into the future. Teoscar is 30 years old … and is still in right in the middle of his prime,” he said. “He is in terrific physical shape, he hits the ball as hard as anybody in baseball, he’s an above-average runner, he can really throw. There are a lot of elements to his game that should age fairly well …  So if there’s an opportunity to do something beyond just the 2023 season, we’re going to be open-minded to that.”

Adding Hernández also gives the Mariners someone to “flank” star center fielder Julio Rodríguez. That gives Seattle two big-name outfielders, and it also had players in-house who can fill the other outfield spot as well. But the Mariners could also keep adding to that position group.

“We’ve talked about the need for at least one and potentially two outfielders, and we still feel that way,” Dipoto said. “We wanted to create a rotation between outfield and DH and we feel like we’re much closer now with (Jarred Kelenic), with Jesse Winker, Julio and Teoscar.”

Dipoto also noted the Mariners have two utility guys in Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty who can play the outfield, too.

“We are much more built out than we were before, but we want to be open-minded, not just to 2024 and beyond, but to what we can do to help this team be a little bit more exciting,” he said.

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. every Thursday on Seattle Sports 710 AM during Brock and Salk. You can listen to this week’s edition in the player below.

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Dipoto: What Teoscar Hernández brings that the Mariners’ lineup needs