Sailors move at start of offseason landing Teoscar Hernández

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners made one of the first big moves of the offseason when they acquired outfielder Teoscar Hernández from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for two pitchers on Wednesday.

Fresh off the team’s first playoff appearance in more than two decades, the Mariners added a right-handed bat to their roster with the acquisition of Hernández and fulfilled one of their off-season needs by finding a corner fielder.

Hernández hit .267 with 25 home runs and 77 RBI in 131 games last season for the Blue Jays and joined Mookie Betts as the only outfielders in baseball with at least 35 doubles and 25 home runs. Hernández was an All-Star starter in 2021 and finished that season with .296 with 32 homers and 116 RBI for Toronto.

He’ll immediately slot into the middle of Seattle’s batting order and could end up being a replacement in right field for Mitch Haniger, who is a free agent.

“We entered our offseason with the intention of adding impact and length to our roster,” said Jerry Dipoto, president of baseball operations for the Mariners. “By adding Teoscar to an already solid base, we believe we have become a much more dangerous attacking club.”

Right-handed reliever Erik Swanson and minor league left-hander Adam Macko return to Toronto. The Blue Jays were looking to clear a salary for 2023 and also needed help from the bullpen for the swing-and-miss stuff, which Swanson would have to provide.

Swanson was 3-2 with a 1.68 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings last season.

For now, Hernández is a one-year acquisition by Seattle. He is entering his final season of refereeing eligibility before moving to free agency after the 2023 season.

Hernandez earned $10.65 million last year with the Blue Jays. He turns 31 next October in what the Mariners hope will be another playoff series.

While Hernández likely moves into right field if the Mariners don’t bring Haniger back, the deal hasn’t been done with the defense in the forefront. It was a move to bolster an offense that at times last season struggled to score runs and relied a little too heavily on its pitching team to win tight, low-scoring games.

Hernández has posted an OPS over .800 in each of the past three seasons. And he played well in Seattle, hitting .357 with three home runs and seven doubles in 16 career games at T-Mobile Park.

Seattle will lose a key part of its standout bullpen of the past two seasons with the move of Swanson. Swanson was primarily a sixth- or seventh-inning option for Seattle, but he was occasionally called upon to close out games. He seemed to fall out of favor for the Mariners during the playoffs and made just one appearance in five games.

Macko struggled with injuries for most of the 2022 season with Single-A Everett. He was ranked among the top 10 prospects in the Mariners organization by some scouting services, but he played in just eight games last season.

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