The Mariners were the winners of their arbitration hearing with Theoscar HernandezJon Heyman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link). The arbitration panel ruled that Hernandez would earn $14 million in 2023, rather than the outfielder’s sought-after salary of $16 million.
This was Hernandez’s final year of arbitration eligibility, as he is expected to enter the free agent market next offseason. 2023 will also be the slugger’s first season in Seattle, after the M’s acquired Hernandez from the Blue Jays in one of the most notable trades of the winter. The Mariners treated a quality prep in Erik Swanson and an interesting pitch perspective in Adam Macko in Toronto in hopes Hernandez, 30, could add some pop to the lineup.
Hernandez hit .267 / .316 / .491 with 25 homers in 535 plate appearances with the Jays in 2022, continuing his streak of somewhat productive seasons. Since the start of the 2018 season, Hernandez has hit 121 home runs and reduced .263/.321/.499, which equates to a solidly above-average 120 wrRC+. Hernandez earned Silver Slugger honors in 2020 and 2021, and was also named to his first All-Star team in 2021.
Despite all those advantages, the Jays felt Hernandez was expendable as part of their effort to add more defense, speed and left-handed striking balance to the roster. While Hernandez’s speed may be understated, his glove work as a corner fielder has garnered mixed reviews at best, and major public defensive moves such as Outs Above Average (-5), UZR/ 150 (-5.3) and Defensive Runs Saved (-3) all gave him below par ratings as a right fielder in 2022. Hernandez’s offensive production is also somewhat one-dimensional – he brings a lot of power and hard contact, but also plenty of swing-and-miss without a lot of steps.
Given that umpires generally tend to look more at traditional counting stats than advanced metrics, the drop in Hernandez’s 2021 numbers (32 homers, 116 RBIs, .296 average) to his 2022 number could explain why the panel ruled in favor of the Mariners. Hernandez will still get a nice $10.65 million salary boost in 2022, and barring an extension with the M’s at some point, he’ll be looking to provide a good platform season to set him up for a heavy multi-year contract the next offseason.
With Hernandez’s case now decided, Seattle’s arbitration business is over for the winter. The club failed to reach an agreement with three players before the figures swap deadline, but the Mariners ended up winning their hearings with Hernandez and Diego Castilloand reaching a three-year extension with Dylan Moore.