The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced that they’ve acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from the Tampa Bay Rays, along with cash considerations, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Matt Seelinger.
Hechavarria was on waivers previously, but cleared when no team wanted to take on his remaining salary. He’s making $5.9 M this year, and is owed just under $1.8 M the rest of the year. It’s not yet known how much the Rays are sending over to the Pirates.
This move probably means the end of Sean Rodriguez’s time with the Pirates. Hechavarria isn’t really an offensive upgrade over Rodriguez, but he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Over the last four seasons he ranks 5th in UZR/150 and 5th in Defensive Runs Saved out of 21 qualified shortstops. By comparison, Jordy Mercer has ranked 15th and 19th respectively in those lists, so Hechavarria could be used as a defensive replacement at shortstop if the Pirates are open to acknowledging that Mercer has seen a decline over the last few years at the position. Mercer is still more valuable overall due to having better offense, so Hechavarria should only be a backup/defensive option right now.
Hechavarria is a free agent at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates go for either Mercer or Hechavarria this offseason to fill their shortstop position for next year, or to provide a backup option for Kevin Newman.
As for Seelinger, we graded all of the prospects in the system for our upcoming top 50 list (releasing tomorrow!) and he graded as a likely 2.0 player with an average ceiling slightly higher than 3.0, meaning he’s most likely going to be an organizational pitcher in the minors, with a chance for a cup of coffee in the majors at best. He has a 3.03 ERA and a 52:11 K/BB ratio this year in 32.2 innings with West Virginia, but that comes with the disclaimer that he’s 23 years old, throwing 91-93, touching 95, and is a year removed from being drafted as a 28th round college senior.
The Pirates don’t need to make a 40-man roster move to add Hechavarria, since they cleared a spot when they moved Chad Kuhl to the 60-day DL. We’ll provide an update when they make a corresponding 25-man move.