What should Mariners do with Teoscar Hernández? Morosi weighs in
Sep 2, 2023, 9:22 AM
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
The Seattle Mariners’ biggest move of the offseason took a bit to get going.
The addition of slugging veteran outfielder Teoscar Hernández was one that the Mariners and the team’s fanbase were very excited about, but Hernández struggled quite a bit in April and May.
A big month of June seemed to signal that Hernández was returning to form, but he had his worst month of the year in July.
Then August happened.
The Mariners won a franchise-record 21 games in August, and Hernández was right in the middle of it.
Julio Rodríguez led the way with a monster month, and Hernández was right behind him, slashing a ridiculous .365/.396/.654 (1.050 OPS) with seven home runs, 16 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs.
Hernández was a key topic during MLB Network insider Jon Morosi’s Thursday visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, both for what he’s been doing at the plate and his future.
“He’s such a productive player,” Morosi said. “He can be streaky … He can have months where he really is not someone that you notice that much, which I think was the case early on this season, and then he’ll have months where he is the man that is the middle of everything. (He’s been) the metronome of what they have done in this last month. He has been there, the steady RBIs the professional at-bats. Often, of course, J-Rod has been on base when Teoscar has come up. And I do think that if you now were to record a pitching and defensive meeting going on for the opposition to the Mariners, they would basically say, ‘We can’t let Julio beat us and we also can’t let Teoscar beat us.'”
Morosi was more than impressed by what Hernández did at the plate last month. He, like Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, also pointed to the Aug. 1 trade deadline when discussing Hernández.
“If you look at what he’s done in the last month, he’s got an OPS above 1.000, he’s batting over .360 with power, he’s driven in 20 runs in the last 30 days, which is a remarkable stat when you consider his season,” Morosi said. “And I think overall, we talk about the ways in which the Mariners’ season pivoted and turned and the crucial moments that arrived late in July and then into August, sometimes they say the best trades are those that you don’t make. And I really believe that Teoscar’s name was out there in the month of July, but that for them to make that move, they were gonna need to be overwhelmed in a deal that brought them back a lot of value, and helped them be a good club right now.”
Should Seattle Mariners re-sign him?
Hernández is a pending free agent, and after his hot play, it’s likely the Mariners give him a qualifying offer this offseason, which would still allow the outfielder to test the free-agent market, but would allow the M’s to net a compensatory pick if he signed elsewhere.
But what about making sure Hernández is back with the club for next year and beyond?
“I’ll be curious to see how many years Teoscar wants. He’s 30 years old — he’s basically the same age as Mike Ford and is the bit a little bit younger than Eugenio Suárez. So he’s one of the more veteran players on the team,” Morosi said. ” … If I found a palatable two-year deal for him, I would take it. I would have him on the team. I just think that he gives you a lot of insurance and protection in different ways. He can be a DH, he can play the outfield, he’s a popular teammate in a lot of ways, and he’s consistent.”
Morosi thinks the Mariners should absolutely “look at keeping” Hernández in Seattle.
“If you don’t keep him, then this comes the question of if you don’t keep him, then how do you feel about Marlowe, Canzone and Kelenic and how does all of that look in terms of the balancing of the club?” he said, also adding, “When you can mark down darn-near 80-90 RBIs, more than 20 homers, that’s valuable. It really is. And yes, he strikes out, yes, he doesn’t walk that much, but he produces runs.”
What could help the Mariners in re-signing Hernández, Morosi said, is the fact that their pitching staff, outside of Luis Castillo, is very inexpensive.
“This is one of the great blessings of having a relatively-inexpensive pitching staff, in general terms here,” he said. “When you’ve got this many good young starters who aren’t making $25 million a year, you can go out there and keep Teoscar for one more year. So I just think he makes sense on his own merits based on what he’s done, and he really makes sense when you look at how responsibly distributed the rest of the spending is for this team.”
Listen to Morosi’s full conversation with Wyman and Bob at this link or in the player near the top of this story.