Miami has been shopping Hechavarria for days, with the Orioles, Cardinals and Padres joining the Rays as interested clubs. The Marlins’ desire to go with cheaper options (J.T. Riddle and Miguel Rojas) at shortstop led to the decision to shop the defensively gifted Hechavarria.
Hechavarria will slot into an infield mix that includes Tim Beckham, Daniel Robertson, Matt Duffy and Brad Miller in Tampa Bay, with injuries to the latter two causing a bit of a need for the third-place Rays. Hechavarria will likely take over the starting shortstop role with Beckham moving to second in the near future, though the returns of Duffy and Miller will lead to some tough decisions for manager Kevin Cash.
Hechavarria, 28, owns a career .255/.293/.337 line with 15 homers and 26 steals in 640 major-league games with Toronto (2012) and Miami (2013-17), and hit .277/.288/.385 in 20 games this season before going down with an oblique strain. He is owed $4.35 million this season and is under Rays’ control for next year as well.
Lee, 23, was Tampa Bay’s 12th-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Ole Miss. He has hit .318/.387/.391 with two homers and 12 steals this year for Double-A Montgomery.
Clark, 22, was a 15th-rounder in 2015 out of Crowder College in Missouri. He owns a 3.11 ERA in 55 innings for Single-A Bowling Green this season. Neither Lee or Clark are ranked by MLB Pipeline as top-30 prospects in the Rays’ system, which is likely a result of Tampa Bay taking on the entirety of Hechavarria’s salary.
For Tampa Bay, the move represents a defensive upgrade, signaling that the team intends to buy in advance of next month’s trade deadline. Miami’s awkward mid-sale position will likely dissuade its front office from making major moves at present, though a smaller sale of pieces like Hechavarria and pitchers Tom Koehler and Kyle Barraclough appears to be in order.