ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays are in the thick of the AL East race and hoping Adeiny Hechavarria can help them stay there.
Tampa Bay acquired the veteran shortstop from the Miami Marlins more than a month before the trade deadline Monday, saying he's a "Gold Glove-caliber" defender who's also capable of making them better offensively.
The Rays, who open a series at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, ended play Sunday with a 40-38 record — 2 ½ games behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, who were virtually tied for the division lead.
"We certainly feel we have as good a chance as anybody," senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said, adding that Hechavarria is a "talented player who's going to help us win."
The Marlins received right-handed pitcher Ethan Clark and outfielder Braxton Lee in the swap.
With Matt Duffy sidelined all season with a foot injury, Tim Beckham has been playing shortstop for the Rays. The former No. 1 overall draft pick is hitting .278 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs, but missed two of the past three games after being struck in the left hand by a pitch.
Hechavarria has been on the disabled list since May 10 because of a strained left oblique. He has played nine minor league rehab games in the last 10 days, Bloom said he likely will join the Rays in Pittsburgh and be activated "very soon."
With the newcomer taking over at shortstop, the versatile Beckham likely will move to second base, where rookie Daniel Robertson has been filling in.
Bloom said adding Hechavarria bolsters Tampa Bay's overall depth, and that the Rays will find ways to keep Beckham in the lineup, including some at shortstop.
"Tim is having an outstanding year," Bloom said. "He's going to continue to help us win."
The 28-year-old Hechavarria is hitting .277 with one homer and six RBIs in 20 games for the below-.500 Marlins. He hasn't made an error this year.
Hechavarria is a career .255 hitter in six seasons in the majors.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said rookie JT Riddle will be the everyday shortstop moving forward. Riddle is hitting .230 with three homers and 23 RBIs in his first big league season.
"This is a young player who doesn't rattle, who is comparable to Hech at shortstop, who gives your offense a different dynamic than we got with Hech," Hill said.
Hill said this wasn't a cost-cutting deal.
"I don't think any of it was salary-driven. Historically we've had to battle that," he said.
As for whether the Marlins will be sellers as the trade deadline approaches, "our goal continues to be to try to win as many games as possible. That ultimately will dictate which way we go," Hill said.
The 23-year-old Lee was a Southern League All-Star this season. He hit .318 with 16 RBIs and 12 steals for Double-A Montgomery.
The 22-year-old Clark was 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 12 games at Class A Bowling Green.
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