Adeiny Hechavarria is now out with a triceps strain injury, and the Miami Marlins placed him on the 15-day disabled list today. Based on the description of his injury, it sounded as though it was a chronic problem that Hechavarria chose not to deal with officially, as apparently he has had this problem for over a year now.
"Hech has had the same re-occurring thing as last year," manager Mike Redmond said. "He gets treatment on it every day. Sometimes it flares up."
When I first heard that the injury was a chronic one that he had been dealing with for a year, I immediately thought of two things:
1) Why was Hechavarria attempting to deal with an elbow injury for over a year when his position requires him to play solid defense?
2) If the injury has been going on for sometime, this would be an excellent chance for Miami to find a trade partner for a shortstop for the team's potential stretch run towards the playoffs.
Miami has focused its trade targets on starting pitching to supplement a struggling back of the rotation, but the roster is not bereft of holes elsewhere. Adeiny Hechavarria serves as perhaps the biggest hole on the team. He is hitting just .272/.299/.322 (.280 wOBA), a near-Bonifacio level of performance. His defensive play has been in question for much of the year, as the numbers and the scouts disagree on his prowess. He is billed as a Gold Glove defender, but whether it is the routine errors he makes or some other aspect of questionable play, Hechavarria still struggles enough defensively to not make up for his atrocious bat.
The Marlins also have no long-term solutions at shortstop either. Avery Romero is the team's best middle infield prospect, and he is likely a second baseman going forward. Derek Dietrich has yet to prove he can handle second base, let alone shortstop. Hechavarria's Major League contract was as such that he will end up earning around $2.5 million in his final pre-arbitration season, so even his work will not come cheap.
Meanwhile, there are a few players with worthy names who could be shortstop targets in the trade market. If Miami were inclined, the Fish could pursue bigger fish like Elvis Andrus or Ben Zobrist, who are both questionably available for trade by their respective struggling clubs. In addition, the Arizona Diamondbacks have three shortstop-caliber players on their 40-man roster, two of whom are not playing at the big league level consistently. Didi Gregorius and NicK Ahmed could be available for trade, despite Kevin Towers's unwillingness to trade cost-controlled assets.
Each of these players would obviously require different amounts of trade return. While the cost-controlled Gregorius and Ahmed would probably require a one-for-one cost-controlled player swap, more talent will have to change hands for the Fish to go after Andrus or Zobrist. Andrus is unlikely to be dealt, in part because of his massive eight-year, $120 million contract extension that begins next season. With him struggling at the plate, (.268/.317/.348, .297 wOBA), there might be too large a gap in perceived value between the Texas Rangers and acquiring teams.
Ben Zobrist looks like the most likely player to be dealt, and he would be a supreme addition to the Marlins. Unlike Andrus, he is not under a hefty long-term contract, but he is controlled through next season on an unbelievably cheap $7.5 million team option. Despite never reaching the batting line he posted in 2009, he has been good enough at the plate in his last four seasons to add value to a tremendous defensive glove at multiple positions. Zobrist is capable of playing shortstop (slightly below average in 1579 innings), but adds great versatility in case of injury and is a Gold Glove almost everywhere else.
But unfortunately for Marlins fans clamoring for Hechavarria to be deposed from his perch at shortstop, it sounds as though Mike Redmond and company believe this injury will be short-term.
"We're hoping it's just the 15 days," Redmond said. "But it's going to be on him and how he feels. It's just going to take a little time for that to calm down and it to get healthy."
Miami will turn to Ed Lucas for now, but I am fairly certain they would not do so for an extended period of time if it turns out Hechavarria's injury is more severe. If he returns right after his time on the DL is finished, expect Miami to avoid discussing making other moves to add to a struggling offense. But Redmond left the door open to allow Hechavarria to determine whether he feels healthy enough to return. The Marlins likely know they cannot afford to run Ed Lucas out there for more than a few weeks before losing out on parts of wins due to his bad play. If Hechavarria has to stay out longer, Miami could be in the market for a shortstop, and that would be a huge boon to the team not just in 2014, but beyond.