It didn’t matter that rookie shortstop JT Riddle was mired in an 0-for-22 slump. It didn’t matter that backup shortstop Miguel Rojas is on the disabled list, where he’ll remain for another few weeks.
None of that mattered on Monday when the Miami Marlins cut ties with Adeiny Hechavarria, trading their every-day shortstop of the past five seasons to the Tampa Bay Rays for a couple of fringe minor-league prospects.
The Rays picked up the remainder ($2.35 million) of Hechavarria’s salary.
It wasn’t about the money the Marlins will be saving, contended president of baseball operations Michael Hill.
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“I think this one really focused on the emergence of JT,” Hill said.
Riddle, a former Western Hills High School and University of Kentucky star suffering through a bit of a rookie slump, took a .230 average into Tuesday night’s series opener against the New York Mets.
“I just want to prove to them they made a good decision,” Riddle said of the trade. “I know I can get better as a player, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Riddle understands the business aspect of the game.
“Things can change very quickly,” he said. “Of course, they did for me. I didn’t think I’d be up here this soon. Now it’s here to stay it looks like. But I don’t want to look at it like that. Things can change quick. I can not do well and all of a sudden [be sent] back down in a heartbeat.”
Hechavarria was gifted with the glove, a human-highlight reel when fielding his position. But his bat left something to be desired.
Even had Hechavarria remained, it was doubtful the Marlins would have tendered him a 2018 contract in what would have been his final season of salary arbitration.
So now the job belongs to Riddle.
Rojas is due back from a broken thumb after the All-Star break. In the meantime, Riddle has no true backup. Second baseman Dee Gordon will serve as the emergency backup at shortstop.