JAYS ACQUIRE PITCHING, SEND HERNANDEZ TO SEATTLE
2022-11-17 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Mark Blinch/Getty Images | Tony Gutierrez/AP
After a Tuesday of Jeff Passen circling the wagons on Twitter, predicting that a Teoscar Hernandez deal was in the works, all his journalistic hard work paid off.
Early Wednesday morning, news broke that the Toronto Blue Jays had sent their beloved outfielder out west to Seattle in exchange for relief pitching - and what else? Jesse Winker perhaps, a left-handed outfield bat? Chris Flexen, a starter who’s been in the thick of trade rumours recently? Maybe Toronto swung a move for Matt Brash, that’d be fun to have a Canadian set-up/closer duo!
Minutes later, it was revealed that Toronto’s return consisted of righty reliever Erik Swanson and minor-league lefty Adam Macko - two arms, that’s it. Superficially, it doesn’t seem like a lot. While Swanson dominated in 2022, it’s not a secret that relief pitchers are the most volatile assets in all of baseball, with only NFL kickers giving them a run for their year-to-year award for overall inconsistency. He had an up-and-down 2021, leading to a very successful 2022 in which he played a pivotal role in helping push Seattle to the playoffs…and then wasn’t trusted to throw more than an inning in the postseason.
To be clear, I don’t dislike Swanson. He looks to be a significant improvement to the Jays’ bullpen, if for no other reason than he can strike guys out - a feature that’s been drastically lacking in recent years. A mid-to-high 90s fastball works well with his putaway splitter, a combination that made some of the best hitters in the American League look like fools against him last year. The thing is, Hernandez was an All-Star. A Silver Slugger. Even with his strikeout numbers and chase rate, there is evidently a market out there for someone of his caliber. No, you weren’t going to get the world for him, after all he is a Free Agent after ‘23, but just one MLB arm?
If this was because you didn’t want to pay Hernandez, fine, I understand that. But what management cannot do now is sit on their hands. I love Nathan Lukes, and I think he deserves a shot to play in the Majors - but Lukes is not your fourth outfielder on a World Series winning team (or if he is, I’ll like the guy that much more). Nimmo’s name keeps popping up, Cody Bellinger is a possible non-tender option, Lars Nootbar and Dylan Carlson are names that are being talked about - but how much better are any of them than Teoscar Hernandez? On the off-chance that Covid reimposes border limitations, Brandon Nimmo might not even be able to make it across.
All that’s to say, I think Jays fans feel underwhelmed by the return. Some don’t know who Swanson is, and others only know how they feel about Teo - neither of which tell the complete story.
Forgotten in all this is Adam Macko, a twenty-one year old Slovakian-Canadian lefty who’s pitching in A-Ball. He’s dealt with injuries, and hasn’t had the success that the Mariners had hoped for when they drafted him in the 7th round just three years ago. That said, he’s still young and - like Swanson - has a propensity to strike guys out. Destined for a relief role later on, maybe, but the raw tools are there for Macko. Years away from impacting the Toronto Blue Jays, but he’ll be an interesting name to watch for in a system that doesn’t have a whole lot of left-handed starting pitching.
April 28th will be when Hernandez returns to Toronto for the first time, in a weekend series that is bound to draw big crowds - and hopefully, a big ovation for everyone’s favourite sunflower seeder.
By: Gus Cousins