7:04pm: Pittsburgh will only pay Hechavarria a pro-rated portion of the league-minimum salary, per Ron Blum of the Associated Press (via the AP’s Will Graves, on Twitter).
3:15pm: The Pirates have acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from the Rays in exchange for right-hander Matt Seelinger, as per press releases from both teams. Tampa Bay will also send the Bucs some money in the trade.
Hechavarria was designated for assignment last Wednesday, after the Rays couldn’t find a taker for him (and the approximately $1.9MM still owed to him in salary this season) before the trade deadline. One would think the cash considerations headed from Tampa to Pittsburgh in the deal will cover most, if not all, of that remaining salary. The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reported over the weekend that Hechavarria was thought to have cleared trade waivers, which appears to be the case.
Over 2920 career plate appearances with the Rays, Marlins, and Blue Jays, Hechavarria has only hit .255/.291/.344, only coming closest to being a league-average hitter when he posted a modest 92 OPS+ and 89 wRC+ during the 2015 season. He has still provided value, however, thanks to consistently strong glovework at shortstop. Hechavarria has declined a bit in this area in 2018 (+4 Defensive Runs Saved, 1.0 UZR/150), though he still boasts +23 DRS and a 2.7 UZR/150 over his career at short.
This represents an upgrade from longtime Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer, who has below-average defensive numbers over his career and is only a marginally better hitter with a career .257/.318/.384 slash line. Mercer is also a free agent after the season, so this is the clearest sign yet that his long tenure in Pittsburgh is likely coming to an end.
The Pirates continue to be surprising buyers down the stretch, as the team has now acquired Hechavarria and Chris Archer in separate trades with the Rays, and also picked up reliever Keone Kela from the Rangers. At 57-55, the Bucs are still on the outskirts of the playoff race, entering today 7.5 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and five games out of a wild card position. Archer and Kela are at least controlled beyond 2018, whereas Hechavarria is a free agent this winter and thus a pure rental for the Pirates. The team does rank near the bottom of the league in both DRS (-47) and UZR/150 (-3.1) this season, so the Bucs could see this deal as a low-cost way of patching up a hole on defense.
Seelinger was a 28th-round pick for the Pirates in the 2017 draft, and he has posted a 2.44 ERA, 12.8 K/9, and 4.45 K/BB rate over 62 2/3 minor league innings. Seelinger has pitched exclusively as a reliever in his pro career, and he’ll continue at the A-ball level with Tampa Bay’s affiliate in Bowling Green.