TORONTO — The Blue Jays opened their offseason with a big Wednesday, trading star outfielder Teoscar Hernández to the Mariners in exchange for substitutes Erik Swanson and Adam Macko.
There’s an element of surprised whenever a core player is traded, and that’s exactly what Hernandez has become over the past six seasons, rising from a talented but flawed young hitter to a cornerstone of Toronto’s lineup and winning AL Silver Slugger awards in 2020 and 2021. However, the
BlueJays need to be more creative given their payroll this offseason, and this marks the start of something bigger.
Looking ahead, the Blue Jays’ defeat now takes a very different shape on.
1. Money matters: This trade is just Part 1
Hernández should make $14 million in arbitration this offseason. That number is critical to this trade, and that’s why we won’t be able to properly gauge it until the rest of the offseason.
The Blue Jays need to fill the gap in their outfield, ideally with a bat of course , which adds more balance to his lineup, but the projected $14 million can also be split between bullpen and rotation. The
was in a position financially where a big move, or maybe two mid-range moves, made sense. Now they have a weak bat, but whether they get a fail or a pass on this trade depends on what that new money is spent on.
Teoscar Hernández’s four hits
2. Why Hernández and why now?
Hernández was due to become a free agent at the end of the 2023 season, and there were no indications that the Blue Jays were willing to extend him at the number he could potentially earn in free agency. Hernández is not a perfect player, but if he hit the market at 31 years old, there would be teams that love how he fits into their lineup.
Uncomfortable as it may be, this was the Blue Jays’ opportunity to move on from either Hernández or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and pivot to a more balanced outfield. Hernández’s projected salary for next season is more than $9 million higher than Gurriel’s. You can do the math.
3. Welcome to the Bullpen Market
This is what it costs now to purchase elite reliefs, or at least reliefs with elite potential. Swanson, who is 29 and has three years left in control of the team, served with a 1.68 ERA last season and hit 70 batters with just 10 walks in 53 2/3 innings. The combination of those numbers along with Jordan Romano in the back ultimately raises the ceiling of a bullpen group that’s deep but needs an edge.
However, this is also a lesson for the Blue Jays. Robert Suárez re-signed with the Padres for five years and $46 million. Rafael Montero has signed a three-year, $34.5 million contract with the Astros. Edwin Díaz re-signed for a whopping $102 million over five years.
Pain medication development has never been more important. The Blue Jays are making extremely encouraging strides on the player development side, which will show in the years to come, but in a perfect world, Toronto would have found their own version of Swanson internally instead of trading Hernandez for him. p>