The Yankees acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for practically nothing just before the waiver deadline, and he filled in nicely for the injured Didi Gregorius. Hechavarria has never been known for his offense, as his career 76 OPS+ illustrates, but he was able to collect a pair of hits in nine at-bats with the Yankees, including an important home run in Oakland on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old made his mark with his usual splendid defense at shortstop, something the Yankees lacked while Gregorius worked his way back from the DL.
With Sir Didi coming back to the lineup, what will Hechavarria’s role be moving forward? Perhaps Hechavarria can fill in at short whenever Aaron Boone wants to give Gregorius a breather, should he think his starting shortstop needs to be eased back into an everyday role.
Even with Gregorius activated from the DL on Friday night, Hechavarria still started at . shortstop in Seattle. Boone explained that Gregorius won’t be thrown right back into the fire since he didn’t have the luxury of any rehab games. Yankees fans very well could see a healthy dose of Hechavarria over the next week or so, while Gregorius adjusts to playing every day again.
Boone could start Hechavarria against left-handed pitching, as Hechavarria has a .338 batting average and 118 wRC+ against southpaws this season. Gregorius showed last year that he can hurt lefties, and still has a 104 wRC+ against them in 2018. So while not a platoon, Hechavarria could come in for this role when Boone feels Gregorius needs a rest.
As Yankees fans have seen in Hechavarria’s brief stint in pinstripes, he is a prolific shortstop that could be very useful behind a groundball-heavy pitching staff like the Yankees possess. With Gregorius back at short, it’s possibile for Hechavarria to shore up the rest of the infield, especially in late innings situation. Boone put Gregorius in as a defensive replacement on Friday night, sliding Hechavarria to third for four innings. Expect more of that moving forward.
Gleyber Torres has great range and a cannon of an arm at second, so Hechavarria will likely see most of his time at the hot corner, where Miguel Andujar has struggled mightily this season, holding the worst DRS in the league. Hechavarria has primarily been a shortstop his entire career, but he did start 18 games at third during his rookie season with the Blue Jays, making one error in the process. It’s not a big sample size, but given his ability to play a reliable shortstop, his performance at a secondary infield position would likely still be an upgrade from Andujar’s defense, especially late in games when outs are harder to come by. Boone has already started prepping Hechavarria for such an assignment.
Again, Hechavarria was acquired for basically nothing, so anything he can provide the Yankees down the stretch feels like a bonus. Just because Gregorius is back doesn’t make Hechavarria a warm body on the roster. He can be used in big spots in the field, should Boone decide to get a little creative.