Hechavarria, 29, has long been viewed as a talented defender at shortstop but has never hit all that much. While he has at times produced palatable numbers at the plate, he has stumbled to a .258/.289/.332 slash in 237 plate appearances this year in Tampa Bay.
While the Rays shopped Hechavarria around at the deadline, they obviously weren’t able to find a taker. It surely did not help that several other glove-first infielders were also available (and, likely, still are). He’s also earning a relatively robust $5.9MM this year in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
The Rays will owe the remainder of that sum unless he’s traded or claimed. Alternatively, if the veteran ends up reaching the open market and later returns to the bigs with another team, the Rays could save a pro-rated portion of the league-minimum salary.
Whether or not he moves straight onto another MLB roster, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Hechavarria return to the majors in the near-term as a utility infielder. While UZR hasn’t been as enthused as usual with the veteran’s glovework, DRS still grades him as a clear positive and he has a track record of excellent defending.
The expectation in Tampa Bay is that the team will now give an opportunity to top shortstop prospect Willy Adames. The 22-year-old has struggled with the bat in his first 125 MLB plate appearances, slashing just .200/.256/.296, but is widely considered a dynamic talent and entered the season ranked among the game’s twenty or so best prospects.