With the Rays currently sitting 16 games back in the AL East and 10.5 games back in the wildcard race before factoring in Sunday’s games, Rays conversation is predictably shifting toward trade discussion.
There are a couple players expected to be moved by the deadline but none more so right now than Adeiny Hechavarria.
Hechavarria has not been a great hitter thus far in his career. He has a career .638 OPS with 24 homers and 30 steals in 6+ seasons, the last two of which have been hampered by injuries. He’s a defense-first shortstop who doesn’t hit for power or average, doesn’t draw walks and doesn’t steal bases.
And while Hechavarria is certainly a plus-defender, finding a place for him in today’s offense-driven iteration of MLB is likely going to be difficlut for Erik Neander.
Few contenders this year are looking to improve or add depth at short and the return for Hechavarria is likely going to be minimal, even considering his affordability ($5.9 million in 2018).
But the Rays are notorious for shedding payroll. Outside of wanting to give the majority of at-bats to young players like Adames and Robertson, relieving themselves of Hechavarria’s remaining $3+ million owed is likely a priority.
Be that as it may, it’s such a minimal amount of money that we’re left wondering why the Rays need to trade Hechavarria.
First, who’s trading for him?
He doesn’t fit the needs of any contending AL team. Maybe Minnesota but they’re quickly falling out of the AL Central race and they’re not good enough to compete for a wildcard spot.
A look at the NL provides more of the same. Milwaukee already has a shortstop who plays great defense and can’t hit in Orlando Arcia. Yes, J.P. Crawford is on the DL but he’ll be back before September. Plus, how much are the Phillies reasonably putting into this season?
You can make the case for Arizona, but Hechavarria probably isn’t an upgrade over Ketel Marte and they should have a glut of players coming off the DL after the all-star break. This would likely leave Hechavarria as the 26th or 27th man on that roster.
What are the Rays getting in return?
Like I said, Hechavarria isn’t bringing back much in return. If the Rays do find a trade partner for Hech, they’re more likely to get a minor league roster-filler type of player than a high-ceiling, low-level prospect. Worst case, they just dump his salary for cash or a player to be named later, or DFA him.
If the Rays were responsible for 7-8 million here, I get it; find someone to take his salary and take what you can get in a trade. But its barely $3 million; that’s not a significant amount of baseball money.
Even with all his faults, Hech can help this team. Use him as a backup infielder; he can give any of these guys rest days or step in should Adames start slumping. Yes, Adames is hopefully the future but we can’t fully ignore his .231/.268/.365 and his 41% strikeout rate. Adames is still very young.
I’m not sold that the Rays should be blindly looking to sell Hechavarria to whoever comes asking. He’s a veteran presence on a very young team and can provide valuable defense in late inning situations.
Unless the Rays are getting something significant back in a trade, Hechavarria is worth keeping around.