Seattle Mariners Acquire Teoscar Hernandez from Toronto Blue Jays

Teoscar Hernandez is headed to the Emerald City

The Seattle Mariners have acquired the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and slugger in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, fortifying a lineup in need of another big bat as they try to catch the Houston Astros, their division rival and the World Series champions.

Teoscar HernandezRight-handed reliever Erik Swanson and left-handed pitching prospect Adam Macko went to the Blue Jays, whose bullpen issues last season were most apparent in a 10-9 wild-card series loss to the Mariners that ended their season.

Hernandez hit a pair of home runs in that game and is a two-time Silver Slugger winner whose power in right field is unimpeachable. He hit .267/.316/.491 last season with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs in 131 games and should man right field alongside the American League Rookie of the Year, center fielder Julio Rodriguez.

“We began our offseason with the intent to add impact and length to our lineup,” said Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners’ president of baseball operations. “In adding Teoscar to an already solid foundation, we feel we’ve become a far more dangerous offensive club.”

Toronto’s willingness to deal Hernandez has more to do with his contract status than the quality of his play. He is due to hit free agency after the 2023 season and is expected to make around $14 million in arbitration. The Blue Jays, sources said, plan to acquire another outfielder this offseason.

In Swanson and Macko, they added one arm expected to help their bullpen this year and another with high-end-starter potential.

Swanson had a breakout 2022 season, putting up a 1.68 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 53⅔ innings. With a four-seam fastball that has near-perfect backspin and a split-fingered fastball that developed into a strikeout weapon this year, Swanson was a vital part of the Mariners’ bullpen — and will join closer Jordan Romano, Anthony Bass, Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia, Zach Pop and Tim Mayza in a bullpen that could be a strength for Toronto.

“We got to the point where we felt like the acquisitions on the run-prevention side would help us,” Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said. “It does create some flexibility for us as well, in terms of resources.”

Atkins said the groundwork for the trade started during the general manager meetings last week in Las Vegas and there were “three or four teams” with a significant interest in Hernandez.

“This market for right-handed bats like Teo, he was one of the better hitters in it. We are fortunate to have some depth in that area,” Atkins said.

Macko, who turns 22 in December, struck out 60 over 38⅓ innings in High-A this year and features a mid-90s fastball and a pair of breaking balls that give him significant upside. Born in Slovakia, he graduated from high school in Vauxhall, a small town in the Canadian province of Alberta, in 2019. The Mariners selected him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft.

“If we can put him into a position where he can sustain and haul a full season of innings, he could become, easily, one of the better prospects in baseball. He’s got the arsenal to do that,” Atkins said.

The Mariners could reap an additional benefit provided Hernandez has a typical season: If they tender him a qualifying offer after 2023 and he signs elsewhere, Seattle would receive a draft choice around the 75th pick, with a slot value of around $850,000.

Francisco Liriano & Toronto Blue Jays Agree to Minor League Deal

Francisco Liriano is flying high…

The 37-year-old Dominican veteran professional baseball relief pitcher, a left-hander, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invitation to spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano didn’t pitch in the MLB during the pandemic-altered 2020 season. He was in camp with the Philadelphia Phillies on a minor league deal when the Phillies released him in July before Opening Day.

He went 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019, striking out 63 and walking 35 in 70 innings.

Liriano, an MLB All-Star as a rookie with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA in 300 starts and 119 relief outings over 14 major league seasons with the Twins, Chicago White Sox, Pirates, Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers.

He pitched for Toronto in 2016 and 2017 before getting traded to Houston for outfielders Teoscar Hernández and Nori Aoki.

Liriano won a World Series ring with the 2017 Astros, making five short relief appearances during the postseason that year.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.