NEW YORK – The day before Adeiny Hechavarria would collect a million bucks, the Mets sent him to the unemployment line, designating him for assignment.
While the team played the move off as one it made due to roster construction with Joe Panik being added, the timing certainly caught Hechavarria’s attention.
“It can’t be a coincidence the day before I was due a bonus it obviously went down. I think the same thing happened with (Carlos) Gomez as well,” Hechavarria said via Braves interpreter Franco Garcia. “It’s hard to believe and hard-pressed to say it’s a coincidence. That’s baseball and the business of the game.”
Hechavarria later landed with the Braves, who are without Dansby Swanson, and he got his first crack at revenge against his team Friday night at Citi Field.
And Hechavarria delivered.
The infielder’s double in the 14th inning helped the Braves to plate the game-winning run in a 2-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field.
With the Mets needing every win they can manage to reach the playoffs, it’s possible that the Hechavarria return shot could prove costlier than the $1 million the Mets would have coughed up to keep him on the roster.
“Didn’t have much of a reaction or any reaction at all,” Hechavarria said of the hit. “It’s no secret, everyone knows they let me go. Coming back, I have the mentality of a having a good game and nice effort and prove I can play at this level.”
The Mets (67-61) certainly had their baseball reasons for DFA’ing Hechavarria when they did on Aug. 9 since the infielder was hitting .204 with a .611 OPS at the time.
Hechavarria had cooled off after a hot start, and the Mets already were paying him $3 million for the season.
However, the Mets are known for saving a dollar when they can, and the timing of it makes it rather suspicious. They needed a spot for Panik, but the organization is filled with interchangeable righty relievers who could have also been ousted.
It was also clear that the Braves needed a shortstop, and teams headed to the playoffs would benefit from a strong defender like Hechavarria.
The Mets could have kept Hechavarria as insurance knowing he’s more proven than Luis Guillorme, and there was no assurance Panik would play well. Having an extra infielder is not a bad option too, and the Mets’ infield depth was tested four days later when Jeff McNeil landed on the injured list with a strained hamstring.
“I never necessarily felt I was playing poorly while I was with the Mets,” Hechavarria said “The message they gave me was they wanted me there and they needed me there. So, when they let me go, that obviously wasn’t the same message.”
The Mets have received solid production from Panik thus far, and Guillorme hit a game-tying homer one day after Hechavarria’s departure.
All three could have been carried, though.
“I didn’t really give it too much mind. Yeah, not getting that bonus, you feel it,” Hechavarria said. “But what can you do, that’s the business.”
Atlanta has benefited from the Mets’ move with Hechavarria hitting .333 with his new team and helping win two straight games. In Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Marlins, Hechavarria scored the game-winning run.
Friday’s game featured some record performances before Hechavarria helped send the crowd of 31,437 home.
Mets starter Jacob deGrom dazzled, becoming the first pitcher to twice strike out 13 in a game while also homering, per the Elias Sports Bureau, and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. joined the 30-30 club by tallying his 30th steal.
With a man on first and no outs in the 14th in a 1-1 game, Hechavarria roped a double to right-center off Jeurys Familia that was originally a RBI triple before the umpires changed it to a double since the ball got lodged in the wall.
Billy Hamilton ultimately plated the game-winning run with a single.
“Hech has gotten a few big hits in the time he’s been there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
This game showcased yet again how the aggressive moves by Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos are helping his team stay hot despite injuries.
The Braves currently have four potential starters on the injured list, and are relying on the likes of Hechavarria, Rafael Ortega and Alex Jackson.
Neither Hechavarria or Hamilton were on the roster at the start of August, but now they’re helping the Braves take down baseball’s hottest team.
“It’s amazing we’ve been able to (add) certain guys pretty much the last week and for them to make an impact,”first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “They’re not coming in and just getting us through it. They’re coming in and winning games.”
Even when Swanson returns, Hechavarria is still a nice piece to have in case of an emergency. The Yankees even carried him on their postseason roster last year.
Hechavarria has a chance to be back in the playoffs with Atlanta while his former team will hope this game doesn’t bite them in five weeks.
“It’s weird to say but feels like I’ve been here for years, just the way I’ve been treated by everyone since I arrived, it’s been great,” Hechavarria said. “To be part of a playoff contender is a really good experience and great to be here.”