Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez Needs to be Locked Up
After a breakout season in 2020, the Blue Jays might be wise to offer an extension to Teoscar Hernandez and get him locked up for the long-term.
Teoscar Hernandez, to any fan who watched the Blue Jays closely this year, was the undisputed MVP of the team. He made the necessary adjustments fans, coaches and teammates have been waiting on throughout his Blue Jays career. The result? Hernandez slashed .289/.340/.579/.919 with 16 HR and 34 RBI, a breakout season for the twenty-eight-year-old.
He put up his lowest strikeout percentage as a Blue Jay (30.4%) this year by not expanding the zone, more specifically laying off of off-speed pitches in the dirt. Teo has always been able to handle the bat, showing flashes of brilliance at several points in previous seasons, but what he was able to do on both sides of the ball this year deserves recognition.
He deserves to be compensated for leading this team to its first playoff appearance in three years. The Jays are in a flexible position in terms of payroll with the only two long-term deals on the books being Randal Grichuk and Hyun Jin Ryu’s contracts. In all honesty, Hernandez has shown the organization a lot more than Randal Grichuk had when he was rewarded with his five-year $52,000,000 deal.
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Everyone wants to talk about making a big splash in free agency, but maybe this isn’t the year for that. This offseason could be the opportunity to lock up guys like Hernandez before breaking the bank on a free agent. Free-agent additions need to be made at some point if this organization wants to make a title run, but there will need to be a significant financial commitment involved to get a top-tier player to come north of the border.
If I were the front office, I would ensure the key players amongst the young core are locked up for a five to six-year stretch before committing to the large financial burden of bringing in impact players via free agency. Guys like Bo, Vladdy, and Biggio will need contract extensions eventually, but at this point in time, it’s Teoscar’s turn.
Ideally, the Jays would ink him to a three or four-year deal, keeping him around during what is set to be a competitive window for the club, while not overextending themselves if he’s not able to replicate his success in 2020. A four-year deal would buy him out of his arbitration years, which could save the club some money down the road if Hernandez’s value continues to increase.
Somewhere in the ballpark of 45-50 million would give Hernandez more financial security than he would get in arbitration, and also keep the Jays’ books flexible.
This campaign was a small sample size, obviously, but regardless of his numbers, what I saw from Hernadez this year in terms of noticeable adjustments is something that he should be able to carry over into next year over a 162 game season.
This year’s version of Teoscar Hernandez is precisely what Ross Atkins believed he was getting when he traded for him at the 2017 deadline. He’s a positive presence in a young clubhouse and leads by example on the field.
Before the Jays go running after a George Springer or a Trevor Bauer, they need to make sure this guy is in their lineup if they plan on playing in October. Additions need to be made and I’m confident the front office will make the necessary long-term investments when the time comes. For the time being, let’s make sure that Hernandez, the guy that led this lineup to the postseason, sticks around to see this thing through.