While any big news surrounding the Dodgers is certainly at a premium so far this offseason, fans continue to patiently wait for the team to make some roster moves, potentially providing a sign of what the team might look like in 2021.
Most of us have already talked about the seven free agents Los Angeles has lost at the conclusion of the World Series, but aside from Justin Turner, we haven’t really discussed the impact of each loss individually.
Indeed, there’s definitely still a chance the team could sign one or more of the departed players, but as some conversations start to develop regarding potential roster upgrades, front-office boss Andrew Friedman and his group appear to be keeping an open mind.
Recently, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times started a series of stories featuring the seven free agents, indicating the chances of each player re-signing.
On Wednesday, the featured player was super-utility man Enrique Hernandez.
Through arbitration in 2019, the 29-year-old native of San Juan earned $3.725 million for the season. Before the proration in 2020, he was set to make $5.9 million. As a free agent in 2021, it’s tough to guess what he might land in terms of a deal—not only because it’s unclear of his value, but also because it’s difficult to gauge how many clubs across the league will be spending this winter based on the economics of last season.
Still, Hernandez will undoubtedly get his offers. Like all players approaching their age-30 seasons, the highest priority might be the length of a contract, which could perhaps push the Dodgers out of the picture entirely.
Some national pundits have discussed Hernandez as a second baseman—probably because he was in the running for a Gold Glove this year—but most followers of the Dodgers know that he’s equally adept defensively at numerous positions on the diamond. Nevertheless, Los Angeles seems to be stacked at many of those spots, especially with the presumed emergence of utility man Zach McKinstry, coupled with the fact that Chris Taylor’s contract lasts through the 2021 season.
And that’s not even taking into consideration the impact lefty-hitting Gavin Lux might have on the middle-infield picture next year.
Castillo pointed out that Hernandez was one of the streakiest players on the club offensively. “He batted .240 with a .737 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his six seasons with the Dodgers. This year, he hit .230 with five home runs and a .680 OPS in 48 games. He owns a .820 career OPS against left-handed pitchers and a .673 mark against right-handers.”
His banner season offensively was probably 2018 when he hit .256/.336/.470 with 21 long balls and 52 RBI in 145 games, producing a 3.3 bWAR. Still, as Castillo alluded to, Hernandez’s career slash line against righty pitching is .222/.286/.386 over 1115 career plate appearances. Against lefty pitching, he’s hit .263/.345/.474 over 893 PA.
It’s almost like an inverse stat chart of Joc Pederson, which is an entirely different topic for another time.
Anyway, while it’s clear that defense is the strong suit of Hernandez’s game, the fact that he’s streaky with the bat—coupled with his tendency to struggle against right-handed pitching—might end up limiting his payday.
Even so, his quirky presence in the clubhouse will certainly be missed if he does indeed end up heading for greener pastures.
While I find it tough to guess exactly where Hernandez might land, I agree that it probably will not be in Los Angeles. And, considering the current economic state of most teams, I’d be willing to wager that he doesn’t land a deal for more than two years.