In Hechavarria the Tampa Bay Rays will receive an injured glove-first shortstop with youth on his side. The 28-year-old has been out ever since the 10th of May with a strained oblique muscle, although he should return at some point in the near future. Hechavarria has appeared in several rehabilitation starts ever since the middle of June.
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When healthy, the shortstop brings quite a bit of value with his fielding. From 2015 to 2016, advanced metrics pegged his glove at 18 Defensive Runs Saved, a much-needed improvement for the Rays. Tim Beckham and Daniel Robertson have shared the starting job this season, and neither player has displayed great glove work, combining to save three runs total this season. The Rays as a team rank third in DRS behind the Reds and Cubs, and this addition shows that defense is certainly a focus of this ball club.
One potential area of concern for Hechavarria, aside from his current injury, is his offensive production. The righty has never exactly been a threat at the plate, and his best offensive showing came in 2015 when he posted a .315 on-base percentage alongside a .094 isolated power. Still, this is a rate of run-creation 13 percent worse than the league average player.
Worse yet, that showing came in 2015. The following season, what little value he had at the plate evaporated. It is entirely possible that the downturn was a fluke, but Hechavarria posted similar figures a few seasons earlier.
The crux of the problem with Hechavarria’s offense is that he lacks power and stolen base prowess. Even worse, the 28-year-old does not have a keen eye at the plate and often walks at rates half of the league average. Any value that he does provide with his bat is entirely reliant on some slapped pitches falling for hits.
Although this may all sound like doom and gloom, it should simply re-enforce the fact that his value is entirely tied to his ability to be a top-notch defender while not being a massive liability at the plate. Adeiny Hechavarria will be a defensive upgrade for the Tampa Bay Rays, and there should be no doubt about that.
The real question is how much offensive production he will provide the Rays. He batted okay through 20 games earlier this season, although that is way too small of a sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions. For the Tampa Bay Rays, this is a leap of faith that Hechavarria will make a full recovery and manage to occasionally chip in at the plate.
As for the Miami Marlins, they are mostly just moving a salary here. They will save around $2.33 million by trading him now, and JT Riddle now has an opening to become the long-term solution at shortstop. Neither Braxton Lee and Ethan Clark crack the Rays’ top-30 prospects. Lee has batted well this season, but he is a soon-to-be-24-year-old taking a second shot at Double-A after failing the first time. Clark could be an interesting depth piece but does not exactly seem too terribly exciting.