The Oakland Athletics have been doing their best to keep the hot stove from getting too warm this offseason. The LA Dodgers on the other hand, have not. They've cranked the burner up as high as it goes, completely disregarding their surroundings.
Last night, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that the Dodgers made their most recent free agent signing, adding outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to a one-year contract worth $23.5 million. According to Passan, $8.5 million will be deferred and paid from 2030-2039.
Hernandez is a bit of a polarizing player. From 2020-2022, he hit .283/.333/.519 with serviceable defense and garnered down-ballot MVP consideration in '21 and '22. His 2023 was split. He hit quite poorly at home in Seattle, posting a .217/.263/.380 line. Away from T-Mobile Park, he posted a significantly better .295/.344/.486.
Hernandez solves a need for the Dodgers. They were looking for a power hitting right-hander to pair with Jason Heyward and James Outman in the outfield, and Hernandez fits that profile well. He should slot into the back half of their lineup in 2024.
The Hernandez signing is just the latest in an extremely busy offseason for the Dodgers. They signed both the number one and number two free agents on the board in Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They also traded for right-hander Tyler Glasnow and signed him to a 5-year extension.
In total, they've added roughly $1.2 billion in payroll this winter. The tricky part is that so much of that money is deferred that many fans have started to wonder whether the Dodgers are breaking the system.
Personally, I don't think they are, although seeing them add all of these large salaries does feel a bit over the top. It sure feels like a signal from Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman that he's feeling the pressure of those early playoff exits the last two seasons.
The Dodgers have made 11 consecutive playoff appearances. They've been to the World Series three times during that stretch, though they've only won one championship, that being in the shortened 2020 season.
Despite winning 211 games combined the past two years, they've been bounced in the divisional round both years, most recently being swept by the Diamondbacks in 2023. I'm not one to frequent Dodgers message boards but I'm certain that the vibes there are questionable.
Expectations were already sky high for Friedman and the Dodgers but considering the offseason they've had, anything less than a World Series win will be seen as a disappointment for them.
It's a far cry from where the Athletics find themselves at the moment. It's tough to believe that these two teams are trying to compete at the same level, but that's the reality that John Fisher has given us.