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Marlins trade Hechavarria to Rays

Miami acquires Minor League outfielder Lee, righty Clark
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- The Marlins traded slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays for outfielder Braxton Lee and right-hander Ethan Clark on Monday.

Lee will report to Double-A Jacksonville, where he will play center field. Clark, whose fastball is in the 92-96 mph range, will be joining Class A Greensboro's rotation.

MIAMI -- The Marlins traded slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays for outfielder Braxton Lee and right-hander Ethan Clark on Monday.

Lee will report to Double-A Jacksonville, where he will play center field. Clark, whose fastball is in the 92-96 mph range, will be joining Class A Greensboro's rotation.

Hechavarria became expendable because the Marlins are committed to giving JT Riddle every opportunity to be their regular shortstop.

"I think this one really just focused on the emergence of JT," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "When we saw him this spring and saw how he changed, physically and maturity-wise, we felt like he had really turned the corner in his development and had really become an option for us as a Major League shortstop."

A native of Cuba, Hechavarria was acquired by the Marlins as part of a 12-player trade with the Blue Jays after the 2012 season. Regarded as one of the top defensive shortstops in the game, Hechavarria was a National League Gold Glove Award finalist twice. In 2015-16, he had 18 Defensive Runs Saved at his position.

Video: Feinsand on Marlins trading Hechavarria to Rays

But twice this season, Hechavarria has been on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. He missed time with the oblique issue in April, and he injured his side again on May 9. Hechavarria has been on the DL since May 10, and he has been on rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Jupiter. He should be available to join the Rays at any time.

Hechavarria is making $4.35 million this year, and he has one more season in arbitration before being eligible for free agency in 2019. The Rays are picking up the remainder of what he is making this year.

Hill said money was not a factor in parting with Hechavarria.

"I don't think any of it was salary-driven," Hill said. "I know that's what's out there, and I know historically we had to battle that, but you guys [media] have all seen JT Riddle play shortstop. You've seen his time clock. You've seen this is a young player who doesn't rattle, who is comparable to Hech at shortstop, who is a left-handed bat, that gives our offense a different dynamic than we got from Hech."

The 28-year-old is hitting .277/.288/.385 in 20 games this season. He is a career .255/.291/.337 hitter with 15 home runs over parts of six seasons.

With a 34-40 record, the Marlins are in a critical stretch before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. If they don't get into contention in the upcoming weeks, more moves may follow.

"If we have beliefs that this is a playoff team, which we do, we need to win games," Hill said. "We were able to win the series against Washington, and split with the Cubs, but we need to continue to show improvement, and win ballgames. I think that will ultimately will dictate which direction we go, and what the future holds for this ballclub."

Lee is a left-handed-hitting outfielder who throws right. The 23-year-old was a 12th-round pick by the Rays out of the University of Mississippi in the 2014 Draft. Known for having blazing speed, Lee is a top-of-the-order possibility. At Double-A Montgomery, his slash line was .321/.391/.401 with two home runs, 16 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.

Clark was a 15th-round pick out of Crowder College in 2015. He is 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) this season at Class A Bowling Green. The right-hander, who projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter, is listed at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. He has struck out 50 and walked 18 in 55 innings, along with a WHIP of 1.00.

"Braxton Lee, a Double-A All-Star, provides an average/on-base combination, which we are excited to add to our system," Hill said. "[Clark], we feel like is another piece to add. He has plus command of his fastball and a three-pitch mix, also someone we're excited to add into our system and allow him to continue to develop, and hopefully help us at some point at the Major League level."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

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