The Red Sox have taken a leap into their off-season business, as they have reportedly agreed to a one-year contract extension with the utility worker. Enrique Hernandez. The deal guarantees Wasserman’s client $10 million for the 2023 season.
Hernandez was scheduled to hit free agency this winter, but he’ll pass that opportunity for season three in Boston. Longtime Dodger hit the open market for the first time during the 2020-21 season, when he signed a two-year, $14 million agreement with Boston. It was a surprisingly solid arrangement for several years following back-to-back seasons on the board, but it soon looked like a coup for Major League Baseball Chief Haim Blum and his front desk.
The Puerto Rican native posted his best season so far in 2021. He scored 585 personals to the board and went on in 20 home runs and 19 doubles with a .250/.337/.449 total slash. Hernandez walked in a powerful 10.4% clip, only cut 18.8% of the time and had a strong impact from a strength perspective. Altogether, as measured by WRC+, his offensive production is nine percentage points above the league average.
Hernandez combined this punch with his usual solid defense. As he has done throughout his career, Hernandez has proven his willingness to move between the court and the ground. He spent most of his time center field and second base, with overall defensive metrics placing him among the league’s best in the previous position. On the heels of that strong first season at Fenway, Hernandez earned Boston’s inaugural gesture a well-deserved center-field this year.
The 31-year-old was unable to replicate last year’s production. It fell back to the .193/ .266/ .325 streak during the first month of the season and never got back on track. While Hernandez has improved on this particularly lukewarm output early in the season, he has posted below-average numbers per plate each month when he’s healthy. He also lost just over eight weeks due to a strained right thigh muscle that sidelined him from early June until mid-August. In all, Hernandez made 68 appearances and had 304 board appearances, raking in a lean 0.219/.283/.354 with just six long balls.
Conversely, some of Hernandez’s key numbers have gone the wrong way. His tracks slipped to 7.9% below average, while his hard connection rate dropped from 43.2% to 34.4%. The Red Sox might be willing to attribute the offensive contraction, at least in part, to the hip problem that Hernandez was fighting with. Disappointing as his work in 2022 was at the plate, he has continued to be assessed as an above-average defensive center player. If he manages to reclaim something like the league’s regular attack, Hernandez will still be a valuable contributor – either as a regular quarterback or in the utility role he sees frequently jump between dirt and grass.
Presumably Hernandez will get his first crack in his day-to-day role on the court again. Sox doesn’t have much in the way of well-established internal alternatives, with a high potential earlier Garen Duran Struggling up to the .218/.269/.355 streak with lower-tier defensive metrics through his first 90 league games. For a Red Sox side looking to immediately return to competition after a disappointing 2022 campaign, including the 26-year-old in their opening day squad is likely to be risky. If Duran plays his way into a day job, Hernandez could slip into a super ability.
One could argue that Boston should have shot higher than Hernandez or Doran and sought an outward promotion in the center field. Re-signing with Hernandez doesn’t explicitly rule that out, though it does seem to take the pressure off Bloom and his staff to dive into the site’s very thin waters. Aaron JudgeHe, of course, is the best free agent that will be available but is likely to have a salary approaching or exceeding $300 million. other than the judge Brandon Nemo He is the only clear above-average midfielder set to hit the open market. Rai is sure to buy a strong defensive champion Kevin Kiermayer (who Bloom knows a lot from his time in the Tampa Bay front office), but Kiermayer is coming off his own offensive season and recently underwent hip surgery at the end of the season.
The commercial market may not offer many solutions either. The teams will surely try to dig Brian Reynolds Away from the pirates again, but no team has managed (or seemed to come close) to do so. A’s will likely listen to shows on Ramon Lauriano, but arguably fits cleaner in the outer corner area rather than the middle. Other commercial candidates are members of the royal family Michael A. Taylor and cubs Rafael Ortegabut it’s also not clear that it’s an upgrade over Hernandez.
It’s the start of what must be crowded outside in Boston. The Red Sox team is facing potential free customer departures for Xander BogartsAnd the JD MartinezAnd the Nathan EvaldiAnd the Michael Washa And the Rich Hill, among other things. Assuming Bogaerts opts out of the remaining three years on his current contract, the Sox is set to go into the off season with guaranteed commitments of just over $70 million for 2023 after accounting for the Hernandez deal. Raphael Devers Judging category titles will likely push that figure north of $90 million.
That still leaves plenty of room for the club, which opened this year with payrolls of over $206 million, According to the cribs baseball contracts. They’ll need to fix the firing squad, deal with the center court position if the Bogarts leave, and possibly look for upgrades in the catcher and in an off-court spot. There is a lot of work to be done in the off season. Today’s agreement to retain a familiar player the organization clearly expects to correct the ship’s course represents the first of many major decisions on the horizon.
Jeff Bassan from ESPN It was first reported that Hernandez and the Red Sox had agreed to a one-year, $10 million extension.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
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