April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Kiké Hernández leaving Dodgers, reaches deal with Red Sox

Another member of the Dodgers’ World Series team found a new home Friday when utility player Kiké Hernández and the Boston Red Sox agreed on a two-year contract. The deal, which is pending a physical, is for $14 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Hernández, 29, reached free agency with one priority: joining a team that would give him the chance to play one position every day and accumulate 500-plus plate appearances per season. The Red Sox, coming off a last-place finish in the American League East, will presumably provide him the role he has sought since breaking into the majors in 2014.

Hernández, who is expected to start at second base for the Red Sox, is the third Dodgers free agent to sign with another team in the last 10 days, joining Pedro Báez (Houston Astros) and Alex Wood (San Francisco Giants). The Dodgers re-signed two of their free agents — Blake Treinen and Jimmy Nelson. Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, and Jake McGee remain unsigned.

The Dodgers acquired the slick-fielding Hernández from the Miami Marlins in one of Andrew Friedman’s first moves as the organization’s president of baseball operations in December 2014.

Hernández became a fan favorite in Los Angeles for his antics and energy. He evolved into one of the best defensive second basemen in the game and a plus defender at shortstop and in the outfield. He bounced around the diamond over the next six seasons, playing every position but catcher.

His only pitching appearance was as a last-resort option in an extra-inning game against the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2018. He gave up a walk-off, three-run home run in the 16th inning.

At the plate, he found success against left-handed pitching — most notably Madison Bumgarner — and rose to the occasion with eight career postseason home runs. He slugged three against the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the 2017 National League Championship Series. This past October, he belted the game-tying home run in Game 7 of the NLCS. The Dodgers won both games to advance to the World Series.

But the Dodgers, for the most part, limited Hernández’s at-bats against right-handed pitchers when possible because of his splits: Hernández owns a .673 career on-base-plus-slugging percentage against right-handers and an .820 OPS against left-handers. As a result, he never compiled more than 462 plate appearances in a season.

The Dodgers would have welcomed Hernández back at the right price but in the same utility role. Hernández wanted more, and he will get more in Boston.