Yesterday the news broke that the Miami Marlins were shopping shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported that MLB executives expect that Hechavarria could be traded in the coming days. The Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer reported that the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and St. Louis Cardinals have asked about acquiring the shortstop.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hechavarria, he is 28 years old and was once a highly regarded Cuban signing. He is earning $4.35 million this year and has one more year of arbitration in 2018 before hitting free agency.
He is a career .255/.291/.337 hitter with a 74 OPS+. His best season came in 2015 when he hit .281/.315/.374 with a 92 OPS+, which was essentially league average compared to other shortstops.
While the bat has never come around he is widely considered one of the best defensive shortstops in the league. Over the past two seasons he has +18 defensive runs saved along with a +17.7 UZR/150 in 2015 and +8.5 UZR/150 in 2016.
Knowing what it would take to get Hechavarria isn’t very easy to figure out, so I’m not comfortable throwing out names but trading Andrelton Simmons netted the Braves a top-100 pitching prospect as the focal point of his return a year and a half ago. However, Simmons is better on both sides of the ball and had five years remaining on his contract.
Hechavarria is also on the disabled list with a left oblique strain though he is currently on a rehab assignment.
The Cardinals’ interest would be that it reinforces John Mozeliak’s stated goal of improving the roster’s defense and athleticism. Hechevarria is a rangy shortstop with a great glove.
The Cardinals do currently have Aledmys Diaz at shortstop, and if Diaz were hitting like he did last season this might end the conversation right there. However, he is batting .262/.296/.404 with an 82 OPS+ this season so Hechavarria would not represent a marked downgrade offensively except maybe in potential.
And on defense, Hechevarria has been 20 defensive runs saved better than Diaz since the beginning of the 2016 season.
So what happens to Diaz if this trade is made? The Cardinals have toyed with the idea of moving him to left field, but you could also see him picking up time at third base where he played some in Cuba with Gyorko returning to normal off from his early season hot streak. He might also have some interest to the Marlins as he is under team control through the 2021 season.
It’s also been pointed out by fans that the Cardinals have Delvin Perez, who they drafted 23rd last season and was a consensus top-100 prospect this spring, coming through the system. But Perez was drafted just last season, is 18 years old, and is playing short season rookie league in Johnson City this season. He is still multiple years away from even being considered an option at the Major League level, so there is no reason to consider him as a reason to not acquire a shortstop like Hechevarria.
For a team that needs offensive help more than anything, it’s a little puzzling at first as to why the Cardinals would be asking about Hechavarria, but according to Derrick Goold it’s not the first time they’ve asked about him. And historically Mozeliak likes to ask about anyone who hits the trade market which makes it difficult to gauge interest.
But when you consider who he’d be replacing at shortstop, he isn’t a big downgrade offensively and is far superior defensively so I think you can still consider an upgrade for the team.
I think the interest in Hechavarria from the Cardinals is real, however, I don’t see them as motivated as other teams in the pursuit may be, especially Baltimore who is without J.J. Hardy until mid-August.
The move fits with the direction Mozeliak wants to take the Cardinals in, but it all depends on what it costs to acquire him.
It would also create the opportunity to use Hechavarria’s range to help cover for a move of Matt Carpenter back across the diamond to third base, which would let them call up Luke Voit for an opportunity at first base.
For years I’ve been talking about how difficult it is for Mozeliak to get a good value on a player in the trade market and I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be the time to go big to get the best level of value. It would be a lot of talent swapping sides, but perhaps you could find a deal that would bring Marcell Ozuna (who the Cardinals have asked about before) or Christian Yelich to St. Louis in addition to Hechavarria.
I guess we’ll see what happens, but I don’t expect this one to go anywhere.