As part of his mission to build reliable infield depth, Brodie Van Wagenen signed Adeiny Hechavarria last offseason to a minor league contract in hopes that he could provide either useful minor league depth, or good infield defense off the bench. Given the quality of backup infielders around the league, Hechavarria looked like a decent depth signing as long as he never had to start regularly. He always had a light bat, but his defensive ability and versatility usually warranted him a spot on a major-league team.
Hechavarria didn’t make the team out of spring training, but remained with the organization through the month of April. He then exercised his opt-out clause on May 1, which meant the Mets either had to promote him or let him go. They chose to promote him and send Dominic Smith down to Syracuse in what was a controversial move at the time.
Hechavarria got some sporadic pinch hitting and defensive replacement opportunities to start the month of May, but did not see sustained playing time until Robinson Cano went down with a quad strain later in the month. Hechavarria then got a solid two weeks of playing time at second base, and hit as well as he ever had before. From May 21 to June 6, Hechavarria saw 54 plate appearances and hit .294/.333/.608, which was good for a 143 wRC+, and he took advantage of the juiced baseballs by hitting 4 home runs in that time.
Cano was rushed back from his IL stint shortly thereafter, and Hechavarria’s playing time dried up, as did his hitting. Over the next two months, he only amassed 82 plate appearances and hit just .158/.220/.237 in them. He was designated for assignment on August 9, just days before was set to receive a $1 million bonus for spending 100 days on the active roster.
Hechavarria obviously took that personally. He later signed with the division rival Braves, and when they clinched the division, he thanked God for allowing him to leave the Mets. While it seemed a little crass to say out loud, Hechavarria is probably far from the only player to share that sentiment, as he is just one of the litany of players to find more success elsewhere after leaving the Mets over the last few years.
Hechavarria was worth -0.2 bWAR in 151 PAs with the Mets, but was worth 1.1 bWAR in just 70 PAs for the Braves while hitting .328/.400/.639 for them. Given his track record, it’s likely that was just a blip on the radar similar to his hot two-week stretch in May. Still, there were several players the Mets let go in 2019 alone only for other organizations to find a better use of their talents. One day, maybe the Mets can actually figure out why this keeps happening to them and take steps to avoid it.