How Will the Mariners Fill Right-Field? Bring Free Agent Teoscar Hernández Back

The Mariners did not make a qualifying offer to Teoscar Hernández when he became a free agent: they could still offer him a contract. Who else will they find for right field?

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

How are the Mariners going to replace Teóscar Hernández in right field? I see that he is the one of the better options in RF available. My suggestion is to bring him back if he is willing to return.

There are several great to elite players in Right Field: Mookie Betts, Juan Soto, Adolis García, Kyle Tucker, Josh Lowe, Nick Castellanos, and Aaron Judge, to name a few. Those who no longer earn the MLB minimum, command high salaries: $40 million / year for Judge; $30 million/year for Betts; and 23 million/year for Soto. The Mariners paid Hernández 14 million this past season in his final year of arbitration.

Of the current unsigned free-agent batters, Baseball Reference lists Hernández third out of 167 free agents by WAR for all positions (except pitcher) after Ohtani and Matt Chapman. This past year, he was in ninth place for home runs in 2023 compared with fellow right-fielders and 7th place in RBIs.

Some of his statistics did go down from 2022 to 2023, but there are plenty of reasons that his next season could be stronger.

He Would Be a Second-Year Player in Seattle

I believe that some players take time to adjust to a new team. After six years in Toronto as a fan favorite, moving to a new city and team is a significant change. Not only do players have to figure out new everyday logistics,  but they need to get to know their new teammates, the coaches, the administration, and the fans.

If Hernández is willing to return, he has now accomplished this type of transition and would start the season as a veteran.

He Would Not Have to Play in the WBC Prior to the Regular Season

Three batters whose performance declined or was inconsistent played in the World Baseball Classic: Julio Rodríguez, Eugenio Suárez, and Hernández. Even though the WBC occurred during Spring Training, there was the practice beforehand and the emotional exhilaration and drain of playing for your country in meaningful competition.

When I considered that these players played at least another month’s worth of the regular season, I could understand why their regular season stats might suffer.

Even if Hernández Had Many Strikeouts, He is in Good Company

I know that the team leaders want to lessen strikeouts. Some of the top batters in MLB also have the most strikeouts. I see these players as desiring contact with the ball and swinging. (Not that all swings are equally good.)

Our players this year were joined in the top ten number of strikeouts by Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos of Philadelphia, James Outman of the Dodgers, and Adolis García of the Rangers.

In 2022, Schwarber and García were in the top ten as were Dansby Swanson of Atlanta, Aaron Judge of the Yankees, and Matt Chapman of Toronto.

Hernández is a Strong option for Right Field

The Mariners will not find a top-notch right fielder for less than they would pay Hernández. Of course, the question then would be whether Hernández would like to rejoin the Mariners.