Rays need to be sure to grab onto Hechavarria

by Gary Shelton on September 15, 2017 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Hechavarria has played well enough to keep./CARMEN MANDATO

Hechavarria has played well enough to keep./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 3 a.m.

Better than Kevin Stocker.

Better than Julio Lugo.

Better than Yunel Escobar.

If you want to know why the Tampa Bay Rays should grab Adeiny Hetchavarria with both hands, that's a start. He has been smooth. He has been dependable. He has been terrific.

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Hechavarria is worth the price he'll cost./CARMEN MANDATO

Hechavarria is worth the price he'll cost./CARMEN MANDATO

And now, it is time that the Rays range deep into the hole and make a play. It is time to make Hechavarria a catch.

He has been here for 65 games, which will translate into half-a-season by the end of this year. Already, however, Hechavarria has established himself as one of the Rays' better players.

Better than Reid Brignac.

Better than Elliot Johnson.

Better even than Jason Bartlett, a fine player.

The problem with the Rays, of course, is that with most transactions, the price tag is a very important part of the deal. This year, Hechavarria is making $4.3 million. That's more than the Rays usually pay for a shortstop. For the Rays to go through arbitration with Hechavarria means the team would have to pony up more than normal to keep him.

Of course, they usually end up with David Lamb.

Or Ozzie Guillen.

Or Brendan Harris.

Hechavarria is better than them all. Every game, it seems, he makes something special happen.

For years, the mantra at shortstop has been “just make the routine play.” Not so with Hechavarria. The Rays are better off with him at shortstop than they've ever been.

Next year, the Rays will be reinvented. We all realize that. Logan Morrison's contract is up. Lucas Duda, too. Alex Cobb.

Then there are the arbitration cases. Corey Dickerson and Alex Colome and Steven Souza Jr. and Brad Boxberger.

Look, this is about doing the smart thing. The Rays have spent most of their history with average shortstops. Now that they have one, they need to keep him.

What? Do you want more of Aaron Ledesma?

Or Tomas Perez?

Or Felix Escalona.

Me? I'd pay Hechavarria. He's worth every nickel.

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