In what was really the first significant trade of the season, the Marlins sent SS Adeiny Hechavarria to the Tampa Bay Rays for two prospects.
For the Rays, the trade showed that they may actually be buyers at the deadline, which could change things for many other teams. Hechavarria should come in and take over the shortstop duties in Tampa Bay as the 40-38 Rays are dealing with Matt Duffy and Brad Miller on the disabled list.
For the Marlins, however, this trade means three things.
1. The Marlins are handing the SS duties to JT Riddle (or at least someone else)
At least for the time being, the Marlins are making JT Riddle their everyday shortstop. Hechavarria’s oblique injury has only allowed him to play in 20 games this season, so Riddle has gotten the call-up and done enough to keep the job.
Through 173 plate appearances this season, Riddle is slashing .230/.251/.354 with a wRC+ of 54. Despite the numbers being pretty underwhelming, Riddle hasn’t done much worse than Hechavarria over his career, who has posted a .291 OBP and 70 wRC+ over six seasons.
Riddle has also shown some issues on defense, and will have to live up to Hechavarria, who was known as player who flashed his glove much more than his bat. It seems at the moment that Hechavarria is the better option, but the future points to Riddle.
The Rays agreed to take on all of Hechavarria’s salary ($4.35 million this season) while Riddle is still playing on his rookie contract, which pays him just over $460,000 in 2017.
Riddle will get his fair chance, but he may not even be the best option for the long haul. Miguel Rojas will be an option when he comes off the DL, and with the possibility of Dee Gordon moving back to shortstop, Derek Dietrich or Brian Anderson could take over at second base. And, of course, the the dream scenario would be signing Manny Machado after the 2018 season, but that seems unlikely at this point.
2. The sale of the team may not impact the Marlins activity this season
There have been plenty of fears that all of the rumors surrounding Jeffrey Loria’s sale of the team would impact any moves the Marlins would make around the trade deadline. However, so far it seems like that won’t be the case. The Hechavarria deal came more than a month before the deadline, and it is rumored that Marlins have made most of the bullpen available.
Until ownership is settled @Marlins not likely to move major pieces like Stanton, Yelich, Realmuto, Ozuna. But Hech, TK, relievers available— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) June 25, 2017
The team may not move guys like Ozuna and Stanton, but that’s ok, as Stanton is face of the franchise and Ozuna is putting together a season worthy of some NL MVP consideration.
Even as different names continue to show up as possible buyers and Loria tries to move into the shadows, the Hechavarria trade shows that Marlins could continue to make moves over the next month.
3. The Marlins may not necessarily be sellers at the deadline
Yes, trading more of a veteran presence to let a rookie takeover seems like a move that a seller would make, but I wouldn’t be so sure. It was certainly time for the Marlins to move on from Hechavarria, and it seems like they would have made the same move even if they were 10 games over .500.
Even if the team trades guys like Brad Ziegler or Junichi Tazawa, they still can’t be considered sellers. Those veteran pitchers are not part of the future, while guys like Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto can be franchise cornerstones. With the Marlins being so close to contending with the offense they have, the organization could try to flip guys like Ziegler or Volquez for more major league-ready prospects that could help the team in 2018.
If the Marlins make Ozuna available, among others, they can be considered sellers, but until then, the team is just trying to focus on the very close future. The Hechavarria trade just means the Marlins are moving on from guys they think are easily replaceable for less money.
While they won’t be buyers, the Marlins still have a chance this season, and they may want to hold on to their important pieces.