Hechavarria signed a one-year contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball on Friday, The Japan Times reports. Hechavarria missed out on a postseason roster spot with Atlanta in 2020, and he'll now spend at least one year in Japan. The 31-year-old slashed .254/.302/.305 with two RBI over 63 plate appearances during the abbreviated 2020 season.
The Braves optioned Hechavarria to their alternate training site Wednesday. Hechavarria missed out on one of three available reserve infielder roles on Atlanta's roster for its wild-card series with the Reds. The Braves will instead go with Charlie Culberson, Johan Camargo and Pablo Sandoval as their reserve options.
Hechavarria is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Red Sox. Hechavarria had started the previous four games at third base in place of the injured Austin Riley (quadriceps), but the newly called up Pablo Sandoval will man the hot corner for Atlanta in the club's regular-season finale. The Braves remain optimistic that Riley will be ready to go for the start of the postseason, so Hechavarria's playing time was already set to take a hit even before Sandoval's promotion.
Hechavarria is out of the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Marlins. Hechavarria had started at second base in each of the Braves' last three games, but he'll retreat to the bench on a full-time basis after Atlanta reinstated Ozzie Albies (wrist) from the injured list ahead of Wednesday's contest. The veteran will at least stick around as Albies' top backup after the Braves optioned Johan Camargo to their alternate training site.
Hechavarria will start at second base and will bat eighth Monday against the Marlins. The 31-year-old will crack the lineup for the second straight day after going 2-for-5 with a run scored in Sunday's 10-3 win over the Nationals. Most of Hechavarria's value to the Braves comes from his strong work in the field, and that may be enough for him to stick around in a timeshare at the keystone with Johan Camargo, whose .611 OPS on the season is only 89 points better than Hechavarria's mark. Both players will fade into full-time reserve roles, however, once Ozzie Albies (wrist) is reinstated from the injured list.