Blue Jays: You should be optimistic for Teoscar Hernandez
Another (non-waiver) trade deadline has passed for the Toronto Blue Jays and for the first time in 2 seasons, they didn’t add to the major league team which was an obvious move given where they are in the standings. Instead, the Blue Jays moved two pitchers in Francisco Liriano and Joe Smith both of whom are free agents at seasons end.
Still around are impending free agents Jose Bautista and Marco Estrada but they can still be moved in the month of August but they have to clear waivers first. In the Joe Smith deal, the Blue Jays acquired some lower minor league depth in left handed starter Thomas Pannone and 19-year-old shortstop Samad Taylor. The bigger trade of the two that saw Francisco Liriano move to the Houston Astros for veteran outfielder Norichika Aoki (Nori for short) and the Astros 9th ranked prospect, now the Blue Jays 5th ranked prospect in Teoscar Hernandez. Let’s look at this deal in further detail.
When the deal was first reported the return was Nori Aoki and a prospect. Aoki is making $5.5 million in 2017 and likely will find himself as a 4th-5th outfielder for the remainder of the season. The Blue Jays took on all of Aoki’s money and sent cash with Liriano to Houston. The move at first was a head scratcher as Aoki doesn’t have much of a role on the current team and other than some decent contact and an ability to take walks, doesn’t bring much. He is slashing .272/.323/.371 with 2 home runs, 19 RBI, and 5 steals. His defense isn’t much to ride home about either.
Aoki could be a member of the 2018 Blue Jays as he’s under team control going into his final year of arbitration. However, with what is now a crowded outfield heading into 2018 with the likes of Dalton Pompey, Anthony Alford, and Dwight Smith Jr. knocking on the door for a major league job. Given that Aoki doesn’t bring much to the team, Aoki is a likely non-tender candidate to avoid arbitration.
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As the final details of the trade came through, the head-scratching of this deal came to an end as the prospect ended up being Teoscar Hernandez. Hernandez, as mentioned, was the Astros 9th rated prospect in their organization. He now is the Blue Jays 5th ranked prospect and many feel Hernandez could be ready for a full-time major league job as soon as next season. I agree with those words as Hernandez could fill exactly what the Blue Jays need for 2018.
Hernandez is 24 years old and will likely report to AAA Buffalo Bisons. During the 2017 season, Hernandez is hitting .279/.369/.485/.854 with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. Many think Teoscar can become a 20/20 guy once he’s established in the majors and that’s not much of a stretch. He’s stolen as many as 33 bases in his minor league career and has a minor league career high of 17 home runs.
Hernandez brings a speed and power combination with some good defense in a corner outfield spot. He made his major league debut in 2016 and hit his first home run off of Francisco Liriano last year in August. Throughout his minor league career, Hernandez has shown an ability to walk as well. He does seem to be able to bring a bit of everything and in some aspects, more than just a bit of production.
Next: Blue Jays: Aoki is a great get for a rental Liriano
The Blue Jays wanted to get younger and more athletic last off-season. They failed to do so but have started the movement of getting younger and more athletic with the addition of Teoscar Hernandez. I would expect similar moves going forward into August and the off-season. GM Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro both feel like Hernandez is ready for a major league job immediately. With a strong spring in 2018, it is likely we can see the rewards of the Francisco Liriano trade as soon as 2018. You should be optimistic and also excited at the addition of Teoscar Hernandez. The Blue Jays got a good young outfielder, something they will need as soon as 2018.