The Boston Red Sox appear to finally have some results to back-up their interest.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the team is progressing towards a deal with longtime Dodgers fan-favorite, Enrique “Kiké” Hernández.
In 2020, the 29-year-old was less than impressive with a bat in his hands. Across 48 games, the 29-year-old slashed .230/.270/.410 with a wRC+ of 83. He also accounted for -0.1 wins above replacement (FanGraphs).
However, it’s not entirely fair to judge him based on a 148 plate appearance sample size. While it’s hard to believe he’s as good as he was in 2018 (118 wRC+ in 462 plate appearances), to expect him to be a relatively league-average hitter with great defense isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
So how does he fit with this Red Sox team?
One of his two best positions is second base.
Hernández seems like more of a bridge player up the middle than anything. However, it’s worth noting that the team hasn’t had a true everyday second baseman since 2016––the year before Dustin Pedroia’s injury history took a turn for the worse.
Since then, the team has had 11 players appear in 25 or more games at the position. Not only that, but their second basemen rank 27th in fWAR (2.8), tied for 25th in wRC+ (83), and 17th in defensive runs saved (27).
While Hernández has been up-and-down over the past four seasons, he still has posted a wRC+ of 98, 5.6 fWAR, and 24 DRS by himself. For a bit of perspective, he’s been 15 percent better offensively, twice as valuable, and almost 100 percent as productive defensively as every Red Sox second baseman since 2017.
With prized prospect Jeter Downs needing a little more time to develop his glove, Hernández is the perfect one- or two-year bridge guy at second base.
He can play a multitude of positions.
Each year, baseball seems to become more and more positionless. Teams will stash players at positions they’re not exactly great at to get them in the lineup.
That being said, you still need to appreciate a guy who holds up his end of the bargain defensively at many different positions.
Kiké Hernández has played 100 innings or more at six different positions. Of those six, his worst position in terms of defensive runs saved is third base (negative-one), in just a 154.2-inning sample size.
He has three DRS in right (342.2 innings), three at shortstop (536.1), four in center (1,109), 14 in left (603), and 18 at second (1,263.1).
He is excellent against left-handed pitching.
The Red Sox didn’t exactly struggle against southpaws in 2020 (102 wRC+, tied for 13th), but there’s room to improve in that regard. For his career, Hernández has slashed .263/.354/.474 with a wRC+ of 120 against lefties.
On the flip side, he slashes .222/.286/.386 with a wRC+ of 82 against righties.
When you combine his defensive production with his ability to hit left-handers, you can slot him in left field––giving Andrew Benintendi a spell if need be (84 wRC+ against lefties).
He fills a void in the clubhouse that has been empty since Brock Holt’s departure.
What makes Hernández an attractive commodity to many teams is his magnetic personality. He plays the game with a lot of passion, but he is constantly joking and laughing in the dugout.
When you look at the great Red Sox teams of the past, they always had a group of loose characters. In 2004, they had guys like Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, and Pedro Martinez. In ’07, that group was Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, and Julian Tavarez. 2013 brought the likes of Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster and still had David Ortiz. Then, in 2018, the team had Brock Holt, Eduardo Nuñez, and Rafael Devers.
While many of the guys mentioned are star-caliber talents, being elite isn’t a prerequisite for being a valuable ‘glue-guy.’
This team is a few moves away from being a title contender, but establishing a fun, magnetic culture is great for the team moving forward.
Kiké Hernández isn’t a game-changing move by any stretch, but he certainly provides a much-needed impact all over (and around) the diamond. Should the Red Sox get this deal finalized, it jolts them in the right direction.