The Mariners were the winners of their arbitration hearing with Teoscar Hernandez, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link). The arbitration panel ruled that Hernandez will earn $14MM in 2023, rather than the outfielder’s sought-after salary of $16MM.
This was Hernandez’s final year of arb eligibility, as he is slated to enter the free agent market next offseason. 2023 will also be the slugger’s first season in Seattle, after the M’s acquired Hernandez from the Blue Jays in one of the winter’s most notable trades. The Mariners dealt a quality set-up man in Erik Swanson and an interesting pitching prospect in Adam Macko to Toronto in the hopes that the 30-year-old Hernandez can add some pop to the lineup.
Hernandez hit .267/.316/.491 with 25 home runs over 535 plate appearances with the Jays in 2022, continuing his string of somewhat quietly productive seasons. Since the start of the 2018 season, Hernandez has hit 121 homers and slashed .263/.321/.499, which works out to a solidly above-average 120 wrRC+. Hernandez won Silver Slugger honors in both 2020 and 2021, and was also named to his first All-Star team in 2021.
Despite all these pluses, the Jays felt Hernandez was expendable as part of their effort to add more defense, quickness, and left-handed hitting balance to the lineup. While Hernandez’s speed is perhaps underrated, his glovework as a corner outfielder drew mixed reviews at best, and such major public defensive metrics as Outs Above Average (-5), UZR/150 (-5.3) and Defensive Runs Saved (-3) all gave him subpar marks as a right fielder in 2022. Hernandez’s offensive production is also somewhat one-dimensional — he brings plenty of power and hard contact, but also a lot of swing-and-miss without many walks.
Since arbiters generally tend to look more at traditional counting stats than advanced metrics, the drop from Hernandez’s 2021 numbers (32 homers, 116 RBI, .296 average) to his 2022 number could explain why the panel ruled in favor of the Mariners. Hernandez will still receive a nice raise from his $10.65MM salary in 2022, and barring an extension with the M’s at some point, he’ll look to deliver a good platform season to set him up for a hefty multi-year contract next offseason.
With Hernandez’s case now decided, Seattle’s arbitration business has concluded for the winter. The club didn’t reach an agreement with three players prior to the figure-exchange deadline, but the Mariners ended up winning their hearings with Hernandez and Diego Castillo, and reaching a three-year extension with Dylan Moore.