Sitting down with Kiké Hernandez
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - While we wait on the fates of Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, the Red Sox absolutely took a step in the right direction Monday.
As was first reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Sox and Kiké Hernandez have agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal to keep the outfielder in a Red Sox uniform for another season.
Considering the limited contributions made by Hernandez in this, the second year of his two-year deal, the move wouldn't seem to be a game-changer. But considering what the Red Sox will need to right their ship in 2023, it is an important step forward.
As Hernandez explained on the Bradfo Sho podcast, the hip injury that he said had ailed him since the middle of the 2021 season is finally in the rearview mirror, allowing for a healthy path toward proving himself as an everyday player.
The importance of Hernandez's presence isn't hard to decipher considering the 4.9 wins above replacement while playing a stellar center field last season. And then there was the Ruthian American League Championship Series in which he hit .385 with a 1.254 OPS.
"I feel like last year, even though I had been in the big leagues a long time already, it was the year I learned the most, not just about the league but about myself, too," Hernandez told the Bradfo Sho. "You can be around a lot of great players and be studious and pay attention to what guys do with their routines and stuff, but it's not until you get that chance to play every single day for a full season that you get an understanding of everything it takes and the little things and the adjustments you have to do to be an above-average big league starter. I felt like in the second half, it was night and day. I started feeling better in mid-June but it was the second half my season took off. And obviously I went into the playoffs and I did what I did and I thought for sure, last year was a good season but I thought for sure I was going to be able to top it out this year. But (expletive) happens and here we are.
"But I'm definitely proud of being able to prove I'm able to do what I have wanted to do for so long."
Hernandez seemingly solidifies the Red Sox' center field spot for 2023, with Alex Verdugo anchoring at least one of the other two remaining outfield positions. Considering what figures to be a thin outfield free agent market, and the continued up-and-down development of Jarren Duran, the move is a logical one.
The Red Sox still have to figure out the anchors of their lineup, but moves like this one will be vital for any success as well. It was heading into 2013 with acquisitions of players like Mike Napoli, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino, and it is a similar case with locking up Hernandez.
The Red Sox might be coming off a nail-in-the-coffin loss the Rays Monday, putting them nine back in the Wild Card chase, but this news wasn't a bad consolation prize.
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