WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Continuing to stock their camp with veteran infielders, the Mets on Monday signed shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to a Minor League deal with an invite to Major League Spring Training.
Best known for his defensive acumen at short, Hechavarria gives the Mets veteran depth in the event that starter Amed Rosario suffers a long-term injury. Previously, the Mets' primary backups at that position were Jed Lowrie, who is penciled in as the starter at third base, and Luis Guillorme, a 24-year-old with a .523 career OPS.
"It's been a priority," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Sunday. "From the onset, we wanted to create depth and versatility at a variety of positions. The shortstop position in particular was one that we felt like we wanted to continue to create options. Rosario is a premium guy. He's young. He's improving every day. And the goal was to make sure we could surround him with not only support to get better, but also some protection."
Hechavarria is a career .254 hitter with a .635 OPS over seven seasons with the Marlins, Rays and three other teams. He appeared in 94 games for three big league clubs last season, batting a combined .247 with six home runs and a .624 OPS.
There does not appear to be an obvious path for Hechavarria to make the Opening Day roster, with a catcher, two outfielders and likely a first baseman comprising what could be a four-man bench. But the Mets may choose to carry five bench players, or take Hechavarria instead of an extra first baseman. Or, they could ask him to go to Triple-A Syracuse, where he would theoretically be the first man up in the event of a Rosario injury. The move also protects 20-year-old prospect Andres Gimenez, whom the Mets might have asked to debut ahead of schedule had they not acquired another depth piece at shortstop.
It is reminiscent of what the team achieved at other infield positions this winter, creating layers of big league-caliber depth. The Mets' likely Opening Day lineup includes Lowrie at third base, Rosario at shortstop, Robinson Canó at second and either Peter Alonso or Todd Frazier at first. But the club has several other infielders fighting for jobs in camp: most notably Guillorme, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and T.J. Rivera. In addition, Jeff McNeil is an infielder whom the Mets are using in the outfield to get him more at-bats.
"That's been something that we wanted to increase on our team," Van Wagenen said. "This is a team that we do think can contend, and you can't contend unless you have depth and have Major League players to come in and fill in."