In a piece from MASN last week, Roch Kubatko said this of the Orioles’ search for a veteran shortstop: “The Orioles chose [Jose] Iglesias over Adeiny Hechavarría in their winter search for a glove-first shortstop.” Kubatko linked the Orioles to Hechavarria back in December, but La Pantera ultimately re-upped with the Braves on a one-year, $1MM deal. The Orioles, meanwhile, splurged on Iglesias, signing the 30-year-old gloveman for a one-year, $3MM guarantee (with a $3.5MM team option for 2021).
Granted, the Jose Iglesias versus Adeiny Hechavarria showdown wasn’t the most compelling positional matchup of free agency. And while the Orioles may have shown interest in Hechavarria, these situations are dynamic, and the decision to sign one or the other was likely never quite so binary. Let’s use it as a jumping-off point for this player comparison anyway.
First, let’s cover the similarities, as both Cuban-born veterans are glove-first shortstops viewed generally as second-division starters. Hechavarria is a year older, and his deal comes at one-third the cost of Iglesias’, though the Orioles picked up the second year of control on Iglesias. Both players entered the league fairly young and both saw their first significant action in 2012 (Iglesias at 22 with the Red Sox, Hechavarria at 23 with the Blue Jays). And both have since gone on to play for multiple franchises (Iglesias for Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati and Baltimore, Hechavarria for Toronto, Miami, Tampa, Pittsburgh, both New Yorks, and Atlanta).
Since Iglesias has a more stable resume, my guess is his name carries a little more weight, so let’s start there. Iglesias, 30, has produced a total of 11.1 rWAR/11.6 fWAR thus far over his eight years in the bigs (he appeared in 10 games as a 21-year-old in 2011, but missed all of the 2014 season). The right-handed batter has traded off between ~2.5 fWAR and ~1.5 fWAR seasons going all the way back to his rookie campaign, but either way he presents as an above-average option at short. He produced 9 OAA at short last year, putting him among the elite options defensively at short.
The batting line is the question with Iglesias after posting a career line of .273/.315/.371. Included therein, however, is a fair amount of year-to-year variance. Early in his career, Iglesias was a .300 hitter, but over his final three seasons in Detroit (2016 to 2018) he managed a batting average of just .259 BA. The walk rate has been steadily below average, so when he can’t hit his way on base, his whole offensive profile suffers. He’s a difficult guy to strike out, and as a guy who puts the ball in play without much oomph, his offensive value is tied directly to his BABIP. When his BABIP falls below .300, his overall line underwhelms. When the ball bounces his way, such as in 2013, 2015, and 2019, Iglesias turns into an asset with the bat: combined .296 BA in those seasons.
Iglesias has also gained a modicum of power over the years. His isolated power was consistently below .100 for the early part of his career, but over the last three seasons, Iglesias has enjoyed a small bump to .114 ISO, .120 ISO, and .119 ISO. That’s still nothing to write home about, but put together with the rest of his profile, and it’s enough to make Iglesias a viable starter.
Thanks to his every-down status as the Marlins starting shortstop from 2013 to 2016, Hechavarria has appeared in more games and seen more plate appearances over his career than Iglesias. The past three seasons have been a whirlwind, however, as Hechavarria became a part-time player while playing for seven teams in the last three seasons. By WAR, he only comes about halfway to matching Iglesias’ career totals (5.6 rWAR, 4.6 fWAR). Iglesias edges out Hechavarria in most statistical categories, including career stolen bases (52 to 35).
Though their profiles are very similar, the real difference between the two is that Hechavarria hasn’t matched the offensive ceiling of Iglesias. They walk at similar rates, and though Hechavarria strikes out a little more, he still boasts an above-average ability to put the bat on the ball. Unfortunately, he’s never quite put it all together. He hasn’t posted a batting average higher than .261 or an on-base percentage over .300 since 2015.
If there’s something in Hechavarria’s favor, it’s this: his power ticked upwards last season, to a robust .202 ISO. The added power came in only half a season of play, so it’s hard to know if the gains in Hechavarria’s game could/would be sustained over the course of a full slate of games. Back in Atlanta, we won’t likely find out, as he’s in line to back up Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies in the middle infield.
For that matter, it’s difficult to compare the contracts signed by Hechavarria and Iglesias because their expected roles are so different – and the expectations of their clubs are so very divergent. The Orioles might see triple the production from Iglesias that the Braves will from Hechavarria (to match the salary difference), but that’s at least in part because Iglesias could receive triple the playing time. Both the Orioles and Braves probably got the guy that better suits their needs – but in a vacuum – the choice is yours (link to poll for Trade Rumors mobile app users).
dynamite drop in monty
The power glove. It’s so bad.
It’s a reference to the 80’s movie The Wizard.
The Human Rain Delay
That so Savage!
None of the above, lame article
Grew up watching Jose make great plays so him fs
Is Addison Russell officially persona non grata now?
I asked in the chat last night if he ever plays in MLB again. Russell is definitely talented enough to be a low-tier starter (especially for Baltimore) or a high-tier backup for a contender. That is not good enough for teams to deal with the inevitable PR nightmare. The moderator did seem to think he will sign somewhere eventually.
wild bill tetley
A well-written press release would do the trick. Reprehensible actions by Addison but worse people have been given a second chance.
If Aroldis Chapman, Jose Reyes, and Roberto Osuna can remain in MLB, there is no reason why Addison Russell can’t remain.
He should try the KBO or NBP. It could help get his stock up. The dude is only 26. He’s a great defensive SS and he can play 2B. He has good power. He would be a great addition to any team
I thought Baltimore would have been a good fit to get back on track. He has a power bat and HRs are easy to hit in Baltimore. Plus im sure he would get a good amount of playing time for a bad team, then we could flip him to a team in need
IMO, if I’m the O’s I prefer Iglesias to start. If I’m the Braves, I prefer Hech to backup. Both seemed to go to the right place.
This. I’d rather have Hech, just because if I am deploying a guy who doesn’t hit much, I’d prefer he drive the ball more when he does. Both guys are likely where they’re best suited, though.
the one that can hit .300
Hechavarria sounds like a bad intestinal infection, so I could not pick him even if he were the better choice. Thankfully, the better choice is Iggy.
That is hardly debatable but I do thought this piece would discuss all glove first pieces and not just these two I hardly know.
Can’t stay on the field. Reliability is huge for a SS. Show up to work everyday is important as a glove first SS.
Hechevarria isn’t a switch hitter guys!
Isn’t ~2 WAR average? Reads like maybe you’re confusing “above average” with “above replacement level.” Iglesias is definitely above replacement level but has had below average seasons. By definition about half the league is below average but can still have positive WAR and be above replacement value.
Is there nothing else left to write about?
Hey at least they’re trying
I’m just happy for any mlb content tbh. thanks again, mlbtr
Better get used to it. With disease and the inevitable work stoppage on the horizon, there will be no baseball until 2021 at the earliest.
Watching KBO makes me dislike the MLB more and more.
The KBO is playing with a ball that obeys the laws of physics so popups aren’t turned into dingers.
Teams that suck or can’t make money are subtracted from the league.
KBO tickets are less then 10 bucks and concessions cost the same as 7/11.
Jeesh MLB, you’ve got the greatest baseball product on the earth, why make it for ruin?
Iglesias would be MVP in KBO and we’d love to have him. Come for a smaller contract but fun baseball.
That ball is juiced in KBO
Nope, KBO and Nippon use a different ball than MLB. Facts.
Hechavarria is not a switch hitter…
Switch hitter? Did a 3rd Grader write this?
That’s exactly what I was thinking I don’t normally say anything about grammar nor spelling since I’m not the best at it but there is multiple grammar mistakes and he can’t even get the correct way Hech bats when half the article is about them. This is a joke. Please trade rumors hire me if you are going to let articles this poorly written fly, this is just awful. I know for a fact I can do better than this. What a joke
Tough crowd today. Sheesh. Lol.
lol…pretty much a tough crowd everyday with all these English majors around here smh
It has nothing to do with English. It’s called fact checking, and it is also the hot dividing line between journalism and tabloid junk, in any language.
RyÅn W Krol
Reputable news sources make mistakes every day. They’re professionals but they’re still human. They correct their mistakes when they catch them.
I would have liked for Detroit to sign Iglesias to a long term contract. He is a blast to watch. He was by far the most entertaining player on the team. Makes stupendous defensive plays and puts a little mustard on pretty much every play. O’s fans are going to enjoy his style.
There was some bad blood between iglesias and someone on the Tigers. He did great for them but then something happened and they didnt keep him. Cant remember what it was
Hechavarria is not a switch hitter.
Hech isn’t a switch hitter, you need to fix that.
Hey TC you might want to pick a different sport and a different way to cover it because you can’t write and you don’t even know information about the players you are writing about. If MLB trade rumors is this desperate for writers, where do I sign up? I know for a fact I can do so much better than this garbage
calm down sunshine…not everyone is an English Major like yourself and no need to rub it in ahahaha!
The article was well written and informative. Quit reading if you dont like it.
The Human Rain Delay
Been rather light around here for a couple days-
Can we get a tribute article to David Price please….just an amazing positive story when all seems like grey clouds in this sport right now
Melchez- was it Iggys lack of hustle and James McCann calling him out on it in dugout?
Honestly, which ever one is cheaper. The difference between them is pretty minimal.
If Brandon Crawford is eligible for this, then I’d choose him.
give me Alcedies Escobar
Slick Nick for me. And his bat isn’t terrible. Very happy we extended him. Now figure it out and play!
Baez is me first, not glove first
You’ve obviously never seen him play. Not only is glove first but he’s team first. And he’s been snubbed 4 times for the gold glove. The only reason is he can play of 4 infield spots likes its natural position
The biggest reason hes never won a GG is he hasnt been the best defender at any of those positions
Addison Russell is a free agent and ready to play
I’d prob take JI over Hech. He has a better hitting history in my opinion to suggest he might be able to provide at least some “old age” bounce back of some sort. Hech, u pretty much know exactly what you’re gonna get