On August 19th, Didi Gregorius collided with Kendrys Morales at first base. The shortstop ultimately beat out a single, but limped off the field with a bruised left heel. After getting the ailment checked out at the hospital, the Yankees wasted no time in placing Gregorius on the disabled list.
With the waiver deadline quickly approaching, it wasn’t surprising when the Bombers worked out a deal to acquire Andrew McCutchen from the Giants. They had visited the idea at the trade deadline, but Brian Cashman could only swing the move if the price dropped. What was unexpected was the last-minute agreement that the Yankees made with the Pirates to bring over infielder Adeiny Hechavarria.
2018 Statistics: Overall: 94 games, 321 plate appearances, .247/.279/.345, 6 home runs, 31 RBI, 34 runs, 11 doubles, 0 triples, 0.4 fWAR, 67 wRC+
NYY: 18 games, 37 plate appearances, .194/.216/.361, 2 home runs, 2 RBI, 3 runs, 0.0 WAR, 51 wRC+
2019 Contract Status: Free agent
There was some concern that the move to acquire Hechavarria signaled that Gregorius might be out longer than expected. The Yankees lucked out, though, and Gregorius returned on September 7th. From that point on, Hechavarria was mostly used as a defensive replacement for Miguel Andujar at third base. That was especially true during their short postseason run.
Hechavarria only had a brief stint in pinstripes, but he served his purpose well. The team obviously didn’t get him for his bat, but he did connect on a few home runs. More importantly, he made some terrific defensive plays at both shortstop and third base. Aaron Boone raised some eyebrows when he subbed Hechavarria in for Andujar early during the Wild Card Game, but the move paid off:
It’s interesting to consider the idea of Hechavarria returning in light of Gregorius’ Tommy John surgery. If the Yankees’ shortstop was only expected to miss the first month of the season, it’d be a fine idea, but that isn’t the case. Brian Cashman seemed to learn his lesson after the “Aaron Judge will be back in three weeks” debacle, and hasn’t wanted to give a specific timeline for Didi’s return.
We won’t have a good sense of that until he starts rehabbing. At worst, he could miss all or most of the year. It’d be better for the Yankees to plan on not having him, and while Hechavarria is a fine defensive substitute, the lineup needs better than a replacement-level bat. We’ll always have that Wild Card grab, though.