The Boston Red Sox have made their fifth major league signing of the offseason, putting pen to paper with infielder Enrique Hernández. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Hernández’s two-year deal will pay him a total of $14 million.
Per source, Hernandez’s deal with the Red Sox is for two years and $14 million. https://t.co/59edxPM6nM— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 23, 2021
An 8.3 career fWAR player, Hernández has spent parts of seven seasons in the majors. He played in at least 100 games in four of those campaigns and two-thirds of contests in each of the past five years. In all seven seasons, he spent time at the three outfield positions, second base, and shortstop. He played first base for parts of four seasons and third base in six.
Hernández, who has $9.42 million in career earnings, was projected by Spotrac to earn a measly one-year, $4 million deal but is arguably still a value find at $7 million per year.
The 29-year-old is a below-average offensive performer who slashed .230/.270/.410, the third-worst line of his career, in the shortened 2020 campaign. He owned a career-worst 4.1 percent walk rate, putting him in the bottom five percent of all MLB hitters, while striking out in 20.9 percent of at-bats. He also finished with a .260 BABIP (third-worst of career), .290 wOBA (second-worst), and 83 wRC+ (second-worst). His -0.1 fWAR was the lowest mark of his career.
While these numbers are frustrating, his defensive ability helps to raise his value. Primarily a second baseman, the recent World Series champion’s arm, glove, range, and versatility put him in an elite class of active utilitymen. For a Red Sox team looking for a reliable player at second base and added help in the outfield, this signing makes sense.
The biggest issue for Hernández is his offensive inconsistencies. He’s a streaky player, which is great when he is on a tear but equally costly when slumping. Even if his metrics stay the same, growth and stability at the plate could turn Hernández into a very valuable signing.
Hernández was drafted by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2009 MLB Draft. In 2014, he was sent to the Florida Marlins in a six-player deal that also involved Jake Marisnick. Just months later, he was traded again, this time heading to the Dodgers in a seven-player trade with several notable names.
Hernández and Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo are great friends from their time together in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the utilityman also knows Boston manager Alex Cora from when the latter managed the former in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Christian Arroyo and Yairo Muñoz were Boston’s top candidates for the second base job before today’s signing. Both infielders should continue to hold key roles with the team despite the addition of Hernández. Michael Chavis, the team’s starting first baseman, could see time at second base, too.
With Friday’s infield splash, the Red Sox fill a vacancy that has been in limbo for several years due after franchise second baseman Dustin Pedroia suffered various knee injuries that ultimately led to his retirement, which should be announced this winter.