In a piece from MASN last week, Roch Kubatko said this of the Orioles’ search for a veteran shortstop: “The Orioles chose [Jose] Iglesias over Adeiny Hechavarría in their winter search for a glove-first shortstop.” Kubatko linked the Orioles the Hechevarria back in December, but La Pantera ultimately re-upped with the Braves on a one-year, $1MM deal. The Orioles, meanwhile, splurged on Iglesias, signing the 30-year-old gloveman for a one-year, $3MM guarantee (with a $3.5MM team option for 2021).
Granted, the Jose Iglesias versus Adeiny Hechavarria showdown wasn’t the most compelling positional matchup of free agency. And while the Orioles may have shown interest in Hechavarria, these situations are dynamic, and the decision to sign one or the other was likely never quite so binary. Let’s use it as a jumping-off point for this player comparison anyway.
First, let’s cover the similarities, as both Cuban-born veterans are glove-first shortstops viewed generally as second-division starters. Hechavarria is a year older, and his deal comes at one-third the cost of Iglesias’, though the Orioles picked up the second year of control on Iglesias. Both players entered the league fairly young and both saw their first significant action in 2012 (Iglesias at 22 with the Red Sox, Hechavarria at 23 with the Blue Jays). And both have since gone on to play for multiple franchises (Iglesias for Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati and Baltimore, Hechavarria for Toronto, Miami, Tampa, Pittsburgh, both New Yorks, and Atlanta).
Since Iglesias has a more stable resume, my guess is his name carries a little more weight, so let’s start there. Iglesias, 30, has produced a total of 11.1 rWAR/11.6 fWAR thus far over his eight years in the bigs (he appeared in 10 games as a 21-year-old in 2011, but missed all of the 2014 season). The right-handed batter has traded off between ~2.5 fWAR and ~1.5 fWAR seasons going all the way back to his rookie campaign, but either way he presents as an above-average option at short. He produced 9 OAA at short last year, putting him among the elite options defensively at short.