Last week's trade of Teoscar Hernanderz to the Seattle Mariners left some Blue Jays fans with a bitter taste in their mouths. While I can definitely understand the feeling, I think the Brewers may have just done the Jays' front office a favour.
Some Blue Jays fans felt underwhelmed with the return that Hernandez brought back, as neither Erik Swanson or Adam Macko, the two talented pitchers the Blue Jays got back in the deal, are household names by any means. That said, Swanson had elite numbers in 2022 and projects very well with four years left of contract control. As for Macko, he's a nice looking prospect who could even debut as early as late in the 2023 campaign. It's likely going to take some time to sell the fan base on this swap, and that's understandable when you consider that Hernandez is a two-time Silver Slugger award winner, and one of the more popular players from the team over the last few years.
So why didn't Hernandez carry more trade value? It's not that other teams wouldn't have been interested in his services (The Mariners clearly were), but he had a few things working against him. He is a pending free agent, and the Blue Jays knew that they could lose him for nothing more than a compensation pick at the end of next season if he didn't re-sign, which was probably always unlikely given their payroll situation and the other extension priorities in Toronto. He's also not a very good defender, even if he's improved a lot in that area over the last few years, and he is due to make roughly 14-15 million through his final trip through arbitration. As much as I hate to admit, there were reasons that his value was limited on the trade market.
That wasn't enough to satisfy plenty of Blue Jays fans, but perhaps the latest trade that we saw on Tuesday evening might provide more context. The Brewers traded a valuable outfielder of their own in Hunter Renfroe to the Angels in exchange for Jason Junk, Elvis Peguero, and a minor leaguer named Adam Seminaris. With all due respect to those three players, it feels like a pretty underwhelming exchange of it's own for Milwaukee, and they certainly didn't get anyone with Swanson's upside.
The reason I make this comparison is because Renfroe and Hernandez have very similar value, at least as far as metrics like bWAR where Renfroe was worth 2.7, and Hernandez earned 2.8 bWAR last year. There's also less than nine months difference in their ages, and Renfroe will earn a similar salary as he's projected to make 11.2 million, also in his last trip through arbitration. There are definitely differences between the two, but there's enough in common that I can understand if they'd be viewed in a similar light on the trade market.
It's never easy saying farewell to a talented and popular player, but unfortunately we often lose sight of player value in the context of today's MLB. While I'll still agree that I had hoped for more for the Blue Jays in return for Hernandez, the more I look at the deal and the variables involved, the better I feel about the return. Hopefully time, and other roster additions, will eventually make us all feel that way.