By the winter of 2019, Adeiny Hechavarria had firmly established himself as a no-hit all-glove shortstop, with a career slash line around .250/.290/.320 in about 2800 MLB ABs. So it was no big surprise that going into his age 30 season, he had to settle for a minor league deal with the Mets organization (term loosely applied). He was called up to the big league club (term loosely applied) in May, and through August 7 had appeared in 60 games, accumulating 142 AB with a slash line of .204/.252/.359. That’s not good. Then the day before he was due a $1 million roster bonus, the Mets DFA’d him in favor of Joe Panik (who had just been DFA’d by the Giants). If Adeiny had hit at all, it probably wouldn’t have happened, but still. The Mets subsequently released him on August 14, probably to avoid the possibility that they would accidentally promote him back to the MLB roster and have to fork over the $1 million.
Meanwhile, Lt. Dans had been on the IL since July 24 with a bruised heel that was not responding to treatment, and Camargo was crapping the bed as his replacement both at the plate and in the field. Figuring that Hech would at least play MLB-caliber shortstop and could not be a lot worse than Johan offensively, AA signed Hech to a pro-rated 1 year contract that worked out to about $240k for the remainder of the 2019 season. It would turn out to be quite the bargain.
Adeiny was immediately placed into the starting lineup on August 16 (incidentally with the longest last name since Saltalamacchia), and then something weird happened. Besides playing solid defense, he mashed at the plate like the second coming of prime Alex Rodriguez to the tune of .328/.400/.639. In only 61 PA across 24 games, he accumulated an astounding 1.1 WAR, which would be MVP territory if he was that good over an entire season. If Hech’s performance for the Braves doesn’t convince you that in baseball anything can happen over a small sample size, then you are beyond reason. When Dansby made it back from the IL on August 26, Hech was relegated to primarily a bench role. He made the postseason roster, but only made 3 PA (no hits or walks with 2 strikeouts).
Hech is a free agent in 2020, and will likely have to settle for a minor league deal again in hopes of catching on with somebody during spring training. I don’t expect to see him on the Braves next year, but I guess it’s conceivable that they might try to stash him in Gwinnett as insurance if he was amenable. Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
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