Red Sox, Kiké finalize 1-year extension

September 6th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Red Sox, showing confidence that Kiké Hernández will bounce back in terms of health and performance next season, announced on Tuesday that they've signed their starting center fielder to a one-year, $10 million contract extension for 2023.

In 2021, Hernández thrived for Boston, belting 35 doubles and 20 homers while playing stellar defense in center field, a position he had never before played full-time.

The right-handed hitter went on an epic six-game run during the postseason that spanned from Game 2 of the American League Division Series to Game 3 of the AL Championship Series, going 17-for-29 with four doubles, five homers and nine RBIs.

“Kiké embodies a lot of what we’re looking for. Kiké is a winning player, he brings it every day,” said assistant general manager Eddie Romero. “Guys look up to him. He’s come from a winning culture. The fact that we can come to this agreement now and have this going forward into next year is a great step.”

This season has been a tough one for Hernández, complicated by a right hip injury that kept him out of action from June 7-Aug. 15. When Hernández returned, he revealed it was more than just the hip that kept him sidelined. He also had a baseball-sized hematoma drained from his abdominal muscle.

The fact that the Red Sox showed faith in Hernández going forward despite a tough season meant something to the 31-year-old veteran.

“Yeah, it meant a lot, obviously. At the beginning of the season, I was looking forward to hitting free agency again, and obviously things didn’t go my way,” said Hernández. “This is a place where I want to be and I’m excited to stay. I know there’s a lot of questions surrounding the team and the offseason, and I just hope that I’m the first key piece to the team that’s going to come back so we can be better next year.”

J.D. Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi are two other core members of Boston's roster who will be eligible for free agency, and Xander Bogaerts has an opt-out clause that many in the industry expect he will exercise. Star slugger Rafael Devers has one more season left before he will become a free agent.

Though there are no guarantees of who will be back next season, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated to Hernández he can expect to play for a championship-caliber club again in 2023 after Boston took a big step back this season.

“He knows where I stand. He knows that the most important thing for me is not just the opportunity to play every day, but how much it means for me to play every day for a winning team,” said Hernández. “I’m not going to say he promised me, but he promised me that we’re going to be way better next year.”

A signing of a potential free agent just after Labor Day is certainly unique timing. When did the ball start to get rolling on this?

“Conversation started happening around the [Trade] Deadline,” said Hernández. “After that, nothing kind of happened for a couple of weeks, and about a week and a half, two weeks ago, me and Chaim sat down, had a little heart to heart and I thought that was it.”

In other words, Hernández didn’t think anything was going to get done before free agency. But then he got good news.

“All of a sudden, about four or five days ago, I got a text from my agent after the game, ‘Can you call me right now?’ It happened quickly,” Hernández said.

After winning it all with the Dodgers in 2020 and getting to Game 6 of the ALCS with an upstart Boston team last year, Hernández is thirsting for more.

“I want to win in Boston. Last year was a little taste of it and it was a surreal experience. I want to experience winning a World Series in Boston, a sports town like Boston that is so passionate about their teams,” said Hernández. “The only time I won a World Series, I didn’t have a parade. Hopefully I can have a parade in Boston.”