Versatility can only help Hech's roster chances

Respect for Mets, opportunity key in Hechavarria's decision to sign

February 19th, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- About a week before signed with the Mets, he met with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, assistant GM Allard Baird and manager Mickey Callaway near his Miami home. Over dinner, the four talked about an opportunity in Mets camp, where the team had accumulated scant shortstop depth behind .

"The opportunity was the most important thing," Hechavarria said Tuesday through an interpreter, the morning after signing a Minor League deal that could reportedly be worth as much as $5 million if he makes the big league roster. "I know that they're a good team, and that's pretty much it. It was the opportunity, and the fact that they're a good team."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Coming off a season in which be bounced amongst three clubs, batting .247 with six home runs and a .624 OPS, Hechavarria says he received "about four or five offers" this winter, "but never felt really comfortable with any of those." The Mets, despite their glut of veteran infielders, did not employ an obvious backup to Rosario, who benefited last year from regular off-days -- about one per week -- down the stretch. In signing Hechavarria, the Mets ensured that they will not have to rely on , who is ticketed to start elsewhere on the infield, or , who has yet to produce much offensive value in the Majors, at that backup spot.

There are no guarantees that Hechavarria will make the roster, and given the $3 million he will receive if he does, the Mets will need to make certain he is one of their four or five bench options before carrying him. But Hechavarria also offers versatility, noting that he feels comfortable at second and third base in addition to shortstop.

"I'm just trying to earn a spot here," he said. "I know that if I work hard and I do what I have to do, I can eventually do that."

Spring rotation

The Mets plan to launch almost immediately into their regular rotation at the start of Grapefruit League games. After rookie starts Saturday's opener at First Data Field against the Braves, the Mets will follow with on Sunday, on Monday and on Tuesday.

"This is the only second game he's going to start," manager Mickey Callaway quipped of deGrom.

Sneak preview

A day before their first Grapefruit League game, the Mets will take part in an alternative intrasquad game at First Data Field. Pitchers will not take part. Instead, they will watch from the bench while the team's hitters participate in a series of situational hitting and baserunning drills that simulate game scenarios. The atmosphere should be relatively casual.

"Spring Training, you don't all get to be on the same field very often with everybody watching and everybody present," Callaway said. "It's a time for a little bit of camaraderie."

The Mets have several other team-bonding activities planned for later in the spring, away from the ballpark.

Here to stay

St. Lucie County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $57 million renovation to First Data Field, ensuring the Mets will remain in Port St. Lucie until at least 2042. According to the TC Palm newspaper group, the Mets added $2 million of their own money to the $55 million the county is providing to complete the deal, which passed unanimously.

Following the ruling, the team released a statement: "We're pleased with today's outcome. Thanks to the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners and the county legal team that worked with our team over the holiday. We are thankful for the continued support of our fans and the local businesses."