One of the main takeaways from the recent series in Seattle, was a not so subtle reminder of the offensive prowess of Teoscar Hernández. Not once, but twice, he came up with the game-winning hit, to help the Mariners take two of three games in the series.
The heroics of Hernández were also in stark contrast to the Blue Jays' issues with runners in scoring position this year. While they have often been found lacking in this scenario, their former player has prospered.
With this is mind, would it make sense for the Blue Jays to consider a trade for the two-time Silver Slugger ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline? He would potentially boost what has been an inconsistent lineup this year.
Hernández open to going back
If it helps convince the team, Hernández himself seems to be open to a reunion. Speaking last Friday on Sportsnet's Blair and Barker, he said:
"Yes. I mean for me, I'm not going to say no, because I'm not like that. I thank the Blue Jays a lot and if I had the opportunity to come back, I will. But I think that's not in my hands."
Certainly these were eye-opening comments from a player who is among the Mariners' top bats. Hernández leads the team in home runs and total bases, while being second in RBI.
In this respect, losing the 30-year-old would weaken what is already one of the poorer offenses in the Majors. (Although it is possible the Mariners could decide to trade the pending free agent, if their position in the standings doesn't improve prior to Aug. 1.)
Further, while we can appreciate certain Mariners fans might say get rid of a player who apparently doesn't want to be in Seattle, consider the context. Hernández was put on the spot by Jeff Blair, who outright asked him if he wanted to return to Toronto - he wasn't exactly going to say no, regardless of his personal feelings.
Most importantly in all of this though, relates to the final comment of the 2021 All-Star, about any reunion being out of his hands. Along these lines, do the Blue Jays even want to bring him back?
Lest we forget, the Blue Jays had their reasons for trading Hernández away in the first place. One of the main ones, was money.
The Dominican Republic native was headed for arbitration prior to his trade, and the Blue Jays decided the money could be better spent elsewhere. (He ended up getting $14 million US from the Mariners.)
Further, this alluded to the Blue Jays having no interest in signing Hernández to a long-term extension, with him set to become a free agent after this season. And keep in mind this is not a cheap organization, with the seventh-highest payroll in the Majors.
Another reason the Blue Jays may be loathe to any reunion is the right fielder's defensive shortcomings, albeit more mental than physical. He just doesn't make the most of his assets and would be a downgrade for a Blue Jays outfield which is one of the better (best) ones in the Majors.
Locker room chemistry
One interesting factor which can't be measured in pure hard facts or figures, relates to Hernández's influence in the locker room. As the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons wrote at the time of the trade to Seattle, it was about removing the ringleader of in-game fun and silliness, to focus more on being serious and business-like.
Now this is a more subjective take on the former Astro (and it is worth noting Simmons did have a lot of positive things to write about him), but surely baseball is about finding a positive balance between fun and serious? What we do know is he remains close to several Blue Jays players -- particularly Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- and personal relationships are important when it comes to camaraderie on a roster.
One final (minor) aspect to take into account, is the makeup of the Blue Jays roster, which arguably doesn't have enough left-handed bats. Adding Hernández would not rectify this.
Ultimately, the reality is the Blue Jays probably just don't want to bring back the 2021 All-MLB second team player. Although you can imagine such a reunion would be welcomed by plenty of people, both within and outside the organization.