Dodgers To Continuing Discussing Outfield Roles Following Teoscar Hernández Signing

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Following the signing of Teoscar Hernández, the Los Angeles Dodgers filled a need in their outfield with a bat that provides a sizeable punch from the right side.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was able to land Hernández on a one-year, $23.5 million deal, which was somewhat surprising due to the expectation of him receiving a four-year deal. Hernández admitted to wanting a multi-year deal after signing in L.A., but he’ll have a chance to re-enter the free agent market following the 2024 season.

After appearing in a career-high 160 games played in 2023, Hernández considers himself to be a guy the Dodgers can run out every day, rather than platooning with another player.

“I consider myself an everyday player, but at the same time I’m going to be available for any decision they’re going to take,” Hernández said. “I’m going to be ready for it and try to do my best just to bring all positive things to the team and my teammates.”

Hernández’s contract is reportedly said to have a varying number of incentives included based on his placement in both Silver Slugger and Most Valuable Player voting.

The Dodgers stand to be the fourth team Hernández has played for in his career. His right-handed bat was one of the few true power-threats on the open market, and since 2018, he’s been among the best.

Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes discussed how their group will take shape, acknowledging that Hernández will have a key role in their lineup construction, but there are multiple paths on how that could shape up.

“Our assumption and what we’re planning on is Teo being an everyday guy,” Gomes said. “It could look different based on versus right, versus left, and where that is exactly.

“We’ll continue to have those conversations with him and figuring out where he’s most comfortable and how it fits together. But we certainly view Teo as an everyday outfielder for us.”

Manuel Margot and Jason Heyward are a possible platoon pairing in right field, but the Dodgers have numerous combinations they could use as well.

Against right-handed pitching, the group should consist of Hernández, James Outman and Jason Heyward, which is a pretty fair bet to make, but against left-handed pitching, they have more options.

Hernández could slide into right field with Chris Taylor in left field and Manuel Margot in center field to get the best platoon advantage. They could also opt to leave Hernández in left field and/or Outman in center field, leaving Taylor or Margot in right field.

In addition, the move also allows Mookie Betts to stay on the infield full time, which is something the Dodgers were planning on this season.

“These are the things we want to continue to talk through as everybody gets settled,” Gomes said. “It could be Teo goes into right on the days that Jason is not playing, and we have some combination of Margot and C.T. elsewhere. We have different options, which is really helpful.

“And yes, with this addition, we had talked about it back at the Winter Meetings, there were scenarios where Mookie may not kick out to the outfield very much. This is certainly an addition where it feels like Mookie will be playing the vast majority at second base and TBD on if he’ll be needed in the outfield or not. But it certainly feels like less of a need than it was prior to this.”

What to expect from Teoscar Hernández in 2024

Dating back to 2018, Hernández has slugged 147 home runs, 442 RBI with a 117 wRC+. Although his strikeout rate climbed to 31.1% this past season, his presence is felt as a run-producer.

Hernández sustained an incredible three-year stretch from 2020 through 2022, averaging a 133 wRC+. What he brings is an everyday bat that stretches this Dodgers lineup versus both sides of the mound, with his proficiency coming against southpaws.

In his career, Hernández owns a 136 wRC+ against lefties, highlighted by an .887 on-base plus slugging. With how potent the Dodgers’ lineup is, he’ll likely benefit from the protection he’ll receive when manager Dave Roberts pencils him in.

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