With just a week before the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline, the Red Sox and Dodgers have made a trade. Los Angeles has re-acquired Enrique Hernández, who played a key role for the Dodgers during their runs to three NL pennants and one World Series title between 2017-20. In return, the Red Sox picked up two right-handed relievers. Here’s a closer look at the deal.
The Dodgers’ Return
- INF/OF Enrique Hernández (.222/.279/.320 (.599 OPS) with six home runs and 31 RBI over 86 games (323 PA))
It’s a homecoming for Kiké Hernández, as the 31-year-old will return to the team that he spent six seasons with between 2015-20 and won a World Series in his final season. Hernández hit .240/.312/.425 with 68 home runs and 165 extra base hits over 1.874 plate appearances with the Dodgers in that span.
Hernández had himself a strong first year in Boston two years ago, when he hit 20 home runs and added five more in the 2021 MLB Playoffs. Since then, Kiké has been unable to find his form at the plate. Over 179 games in 2022-23, Hernández recorded a slash line of .222/.286/.330 with 12 home runs and a 67 OPS+ — well below league-average.
Hernández is a good fastball hitter, but struggles mightily against breaking balls and offspeed pitches. Given that, it shouldn’t be a shock that pitchers have adjusted a bit and given him less of the heat — and more offspeed and breaking stuff over the last two seasons.
Defensively, Hernández’s played all over the diamond but has spent most of his career at second and center field. The 31-year-old possesses average arm strength and speed, but Hernández posted a horrific -13 Outs Above Average this season. That’s mainly because the Sox pushed Hernández to play shortstop with Trevor Story on the IL. That experiment didn’t work.
Hernández, though, is a fine center fielder and played well there over his two and a half seasons in Boston.
The deal marks yet another deal of significance between the Red Sox and Dodgers. Three years ago, the two clubs made a blockbuster deal when Mookie Betts and David Price were shipped to Los Angeles for a package that included Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong.
The Red Sox’s Return
- RP Nick Robertson (2.54 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 28.1 MiLB IP and 6.10 ERA, 13 strikeouts in 10.1 MLB IP)
- RP Justin Hagenman (2.78 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts over 55.0 IP (AAA))
In return for Hernández, the Red Sox picked up two relievers in Nick Robertson and Justin Hagenman. Robertson received a cup of coffee in the Majors this season with the Dodgers, while Hagenman has never pitched in the MLB.
Robertson, a former seventh-round pick out of James Madison, flashed a hard fastball that can play up with his extension on the mound. His fastball did get a little too much plate in his brief stint in the Majors, as did his changeup. Both pitches, though, do have the potential to be legitimate weapons at the MLB level.
New Jersey native Justin Hagenman put up solid results in the Dodgers organization this season, a year after he posted a 5.57 ERA and opposing hitters batted .271 off him. Hagenman’s walk rate came down and he struck out 60 batters over 55 innings in Oklahoma City (AAA). He pitched to the tune of a 2.78 ERA.
Boston will also get some of Hernández’s money off the books, but not all of it. The Red Sox will reportedly pay off $2.5M of approximately $3.6M Hernandez is owed for the remainder of the season.
The Dodgers will hope that Hernández can find his form back in Los Angeles, after two difficult seasons in Boston. Given his versatility, tools, and ability to perform in the postseason — Hernández is a career .269 hitter in the playoffs with 13 home runs and a .900 OPS (194 PA) — the deal has the potential to benefit Los Angeles in a big way.
As for Boston, the Red Sox add two relievers to the organization that could be helpful beginning next season. While it might surprise some that the Red Sox would trade Hernández in the midst of a playoff push, the impending return of Story, the emergence of Jarren Duran, and very little room in the Red Sox outfield gave the front office the opportunity to free up some cash and get a couple of relief pitchers.