DODGERS SIGN HERNANDEZ, CUBS SIGN IMANAGA AS FREE AGENCY CONTINUES

2024-01-11 · 1 min read · MLB/Baseball
Teoscar Hernandez and Shota Imanaga

USA Today Sports | Eric Espada/Getty Images

Money doesn’t grow on trees, unless you’re in Elysian Park.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed ex-Blue Jay Teoscar Hernandez to a one-year, $23.5 million deal - their latest addition to an already star-studded lineup. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; a large chunk of Hernandez’ deal - $8.5 million to be exact - will be deferred and paid out from 2030-2039 in yearly installments of $850,000.
Money be damned, Hernandez is exactly what Los Angeles was rumoured to be looking for over the last couple weeks - a bat that smashes lefty pitching. He will likely take over in LF, succeeding Chris Taylor as a more-powerful-but-worse-defensively outfielder. In a perfect world Teoscar would DH, though needless to say Shohei Ohtani has that locked down. He slashed .258/.305/.435 over a whopping 160 regular season games with Seattle in 2023, belting 26 bombs with 93 driven in.
Though not a bad year by any stretch, many of his advanced numbers were down significantly from his days in Toronto. In 2023, Teoscar’s rOBA sunk to .318 (.359 in ‘23), Rbat+ to 104 (134 in ‘23 - 100 is considered league average), ISO to .178 (lowest in his career), HR% to 3.8% (4.7% in ‘23), BB% to 5.6 % (6.4% in ‘23), with his SO% rising to 31.1% (highest since 2019). His numbers at home were far inferior to those when on the road, a trend that the Dodgers are presumably unconcerned with.
Jumping to the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs have finally made a move; the team announced that they’ve signed lefty Shota Imanaga to a four-year, $53 million contract - a deal that’s filled with complexity and chaos. Following the completion of year two, Chicago will choose whether to utilize its option and tack on a fifth year, resulting in a five-year, $80 million term. Should the Cubs opt against this, then Imanaga can either become a Free Agent (after 2025) or continue on with the original four-year structure. Following year three, each party will have the same decision(s) to make. Imanaga also has a four-team no-trade clause, which expands to a full no-trade clause if Chicago opts to - at any point - choose for his fifth year option.
All told, Imanaga could be in Chicago for two years, or three years, or four years, or five years!
The 30-year old Japanese left-hander has dominated professional baseball overseas, amassing an ERA under 3 over eight seasons in the JPCL and JPEL (as well as a brief stint of domination in Australia). Imanaga was selected to the most-recent WBC Japan squad, and was the Championship Game starter against the United States - a game that eventually saw Japan win.
Nicknamed “The Throwing Philosopher”, Imanaga was a 1st Round selection in the 2015 NPB Draft by Yokohama. He was a two-time All-Star in 2019 and 2023, while also becoming the Central League strikeout champ last season. In 2022, Imanaga tossed a no-hitter against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters - a team that had ex-MLB’ers Renato Nunez and Arismendy Alcantara.
Imanaga will join Seiya Suzuki in Chicago, whom he pitched against in Japan. The two were nearly teammates during the 2023 WBC, however Suzuki had to withdraw due to a left oblique injury. Suzuki’s done well since leaving Hiroshima, and will be set to patrol the outfield behind Imanaga in 2024 and beyond.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins

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