M’s boost offense, trade for Jays OF Hernandez
- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
The Seattle Mariners acquired slugger Teoscar Hernandez in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, fortifying a lineup in need of another big bat as they try to catch the Houston Astros, their division rival and World Series champion.
Right-handed reliever Erik Swanson and left-handed pitching prospect Adam Macko went to the Blue Jays, whose bullpen issues last season were most apparent in a 10-9 wild-card series loss to the Mariners that ended their season.
Hernandez, 30, hit a pair of home runs in that game and is a two-time Silver Slugger winner whose power in right field is unimpeachable. He hit .267/.316/.491 last season with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs in 131 games and should man right field alongside the American League Rookie of the Year winner, center fielder Julio Rodriguez.
Toronto’s willingness to deal Hernandez has more to do with his contract status than the quality of his play. He is due to hit free agency after the 2023 season and is expected to make around $14 million in arbitration. The Blue Jays, sources said, plan to acquire another outfielder this offseason.
In Swanson and Macko, they added one arm expected to help their bullpen this year and another with high-end-starter potential.
Swanson, 29, had a breakout 2022 season, putting up a 1.68 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 53⅔ innings. With a four-seam fastball that has near-perfect backspin and a split-fingered fastball that developed into a strikeout weapon this year, Swanson was a vital part of the Mariners’ bullpen — and will join closer Jordan Romano, Anthony Bass, Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia, Zach Pop and Tim Mayza in a bullpen that could be a strength for Toronto.
Macko, who turns 22 in December, struck out 60 over 38⅓ innings in High-A this year and features a mid-90s fastball and a pair of breaking balls that give him significant upside. Born in Slovakia, he graduated from high school in Vauxhall, a small town in Canada’s Alberta province, in 2019. The Mariners selected him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft.
The Mariners could reap an additional benefit provided Hernandez has a typical season: If they tender him a qualifying offer following 2023 and he signs elsewhere, Seattle would receive a draft choice around the 75th pick, with a slot value of around $850,000.
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