The Mariners started addressing their glaring need for impact hitters with the first of what is expected to be multiple moves this offseason.

The team announced Wednesday that it had acquired former All-Star outfielder Teoscar Hernandez from the Blue Jays for reliever Erik Swanson and left-handed pitching prospect Adam Macko.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported the trade.

“We began our offseason with the intent to add impact and length to our lineup,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said in a team statement. “In adding Teoscar to an already solid foundation, we feel we’ve become a far more dangerous offensive club.”

Hernandez, who turned 30 on Oct. 15, was an All-Star in 2021 and will be entering his final year of club control, meaning he will be a free agent after the 2023 season. Per MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration logarithm, Hernandez is projected to make around $14.1 million in his final year of arbitration.

In 131 games in 2022 he posted a .267/.316/.491 slash line with 35 doubles, a triple, 25 homers, 71 run scored, 77 RBI, 34 walks and 156 strikeouts in 535 plate appearances.

He suffered a left oblique strain April 13 and was placed on the 10-day injured list, missing 21 games.

Advertising

“Teoscar has been one of the better middle-of-the-order bats in the American League and will be an exciting addition to our lineup as we look to strengthen our team and return to the playoffs in 2023,” Mariners general manager Justin Hollander said in the statement.

Following a 2022 season that saw the Mariners end a 21-year playoff drought and defeat the Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Series, expectations for 2023 are rocketing. To take the next step, the Mariners must boost an offense that was frustratingly inconsistent in 2022. Besides the addition of Hernandez, they are expected to add a middle infielder and another outfielder.

Does the Hernandez signing mean a reunion with Mitch Haniger is off the table?

“I don’t know that it affects Mitch substantially more or less than anything else we might do,” Hollander said in a video conference. “A goal that we had in the offseason was that we needed to get more dangerous offensively, either by adding length throughout the lineup or adding a middle-of-the-order, impact bat. Obviously, there’s still more work to do, and there are things we’d like to do. That includes Mitch Haniger. Certainly the door is still open for Mitch to be back. And we’re still having those conversations.”

Hernandez put together a monster season in 2021. In 143 games he had a .296/.346/.524 slash line with 29 doubles, 32 homers, 92 runs scored, 116 RBI, 36 walks, 148 strikeouts and 12 stolen bases, earning a Silver Slugger award.

And yet, he wasn’t surprised to be traded.

“Not really, because I heard my name on all the social media and on MLB Network,” he said via video conference. “I was waiting for something to happen, but it’s always a surprise for a player. For me, this is the second time that I’ve been traded.”

Advertising

His personality should be a fit for the Mariners.

“I’m always laughing, trying to make jokes with my teammates, trying to make them relax,” he said.

He knows there’s an intensity that needs to be maintained.

“I’m gonna play as hard as I can every time,” he said. “I’m a guy that it doesn’t matter how I feel. I’m gonna be in the field for the team and for my teammates in any way that I possibly can, just to be there and help.”

He saw how loose and free the Mariners played in games vs. the Blue Jays during the regular season and playoffs.

“I could see they had a pretty good group of guys that was really special, and I could see what they can do on a baseball field this year when they beat us in the wild card,” he said.

Swanson, 29, blossomed into one of the Mariners’ most reliable late-inning relievers in 2022. He posted a 3-2 record with a 1.68 ERA and three saves in 57 appearances. In 53 2/3 innings he struck out 70 and walked just 10.

He was entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, meaning he won’t be a free agent until after 2025.

Macko, 21, was rated as the Mariners’ No. 8 prospect at midseason by Baseball America. In eight starts with High-A Everett he posted an 0-2 record with a 3.99 ERA. He was placed on the minor-league injured list June 3 because of tendinitis in his left shoulder and didn’t pitch again during the regular season. He returned to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, where he made one start and six relief appearances, posting an 0-1 record with a 6.08 ERA. In 13 1/3 innings he walked 13 and struck out 14.