Blue Jays Acquire Yunel Escobar

The Blue Jays acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes from the Braves for shortstop Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky, according to a team press release.  The Jays designated Ronald Uviedo for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

The move comes as a big surprise, as Escobar was perhaps one of the more valuable commodities in the game when the 2009 season concluded.  Just a few days ago, MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote that the Braves "simply aren't willing to sell low on a guy who they still view as the game's top defensive shortstop."  Escobar was worth over four wins last year, but his power has disappeared in 301 plate appearances this year.  Escobar will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, so he'll be under the Jays' control through 2013.  Escobar's attitude was a likely factor in the deal; Bowman wrote in June that "there's no doubt that Escobar's flamboyant approach to the game has continued to infuriate some members of the Braves organization."  Back in February, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez went more in-depth on the attitude angle.

Gonzalez will replace Escobar as the Braves' starting shortstop as they enter the second half with a four game lead in the NL East.  He doesn't get on base, but he's already hit 17 home runs on the season and continues to play strong defense.  Gonzalez is owed another $1.23MM this year and has a $2.5MM club option for 2011.  Braves GM Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "This trade improves our club for the second half of the season."

Reyes, a 25-year-old southpaw, has spent most of the season at Triple A.  His strikeout and walk rates are strong in his fourth stint at the level, but he's had problems with home runs and hits.  Baseball America regarded Reyes as the Braves' eighth-best prospect heading into the 2007 season, calling him a "thick-bodied lefthander who does a good job of keeping hitters off balance."  He's dealt with injuries, including Tommy John surgery in '04.

Collins, a 20-year-old lefty, was ranked 19th among Blue Jays prospects by Baseball America heading into this season.  The 5'7" southpaw "gets outs with a solid fastball that tops out at 93 mph and a true 12-to-6 curveball that he spins really well."  Working in relief, Collins has a 15.3 K/9 in 43 Double A innings this year.  Pastornicky, a 20-year-old shortstop, was ranked 17th.  He's described as a player who "doesn't have flashy tools but gets the most out of what he has."  In the best case, he'll become a line drive top of the order hitter with solid defense, indicates BA.  As for Uviedo, the Jays had acquired him from the Pirates in the June Dana Eveland deal.  BA described him as rail-thin and homer-prone heading into the '09 season, but praised his fastball and slider.

My take: this is certainly a win-now move for the Braves, who are confident Gonzalez will provide more over the next few months than Escobar would have.  The Blue Jays, meanwhile, managed the rare feat of acquiring three-plus years of a shortstop with star potential without giving up much.


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195 Comments on "Blue Jays Acquire Yunel Escobar"


Dave4G4e
5 years 1 month ago

interesting no writers had this before the release unless i’m mistaken, just didn’t hear anything prior to this.

NL_East_Rivalry
5 years 1 month ago

Wren likes to keep things shush-shush. I heard a rumor from someone about it, but nothing by a writer.

5 years 1 month ago

So does Alex. He prefers to keep things close to the chest, especially after last year’s Halladay debacle.

5 years 1 month ago

Combine that with AA’s policy of not commenting on anything remotely involving trades and you end up with a decently big move that flies under the radar.

NL_East_Rivalry
5 years 1 month ago

You know Wren didn’t wake up this morning and was like… let’s trade Yunel before Noon. I went to a random game last year and saw on the screen that we traded for McLouth. I was like “I saw nothing leading up to this on MLBTR!” These types of trades don’t have times or days on the MLBTR page. No chance for anyone to outbid.

Ferrariman
5 years 1 month ago

thats all it took????? im shocked.

bigpat
5 years 1 month ago

Wow, that’s it? I know Yunel is in the middle of an awful season, but they swap him with Gonzalez who is having a career year and will be an upgrade this season, but get nothing else in return.

I would have liked the Pirates to acquire him, but I guess the Braves wanted an upgrade at shortstop instead of a prospect package. Maybe the Pirates will pick Uviedo back up.

austinhb
5 years 1 month ago

i guess they feel gonzales will be an upgrade over the attitude of yunel until salcedo comes up, i actually like this move i was getting fed up watching yunel escobar complain and not hustle

bigpat
5 years 1 month ago

They could have played Infante at SS for the rest of the season as well, but they probably like the value he provides as a utility player which is understandable.

garlick
5 years 1 month ago

Infante’s weakest fielding position was SS. So you probably didn’t want him there everyday. Gonzalez will definitely add some pop, and I think Yunel’s defense was a big overrated to begin with.

inkstainedscribe
5 years 1 month ago

Guess the Braves FO could no longer wait for Yunel to grow up. I think they sold low, unfortunately.

soxfan0928
5 years 1 month ago

Braves just got savaged by that deal. That’s ridiculous.

ronny9
5 years 1 month ago

I disagree. With Chipper aging, Glaus/Wagner on one year deals, and Bobby Cox on his way out they are clearly going for it this year.

This move gives them a veteran infielder who plays great defense just like the guy they traded; but also gives them a veteran player with not only pennant race but also playoff experience. Gonzalez is having a career offensive year, has been healthy (which was his major flaw previously) and is under team control at a very affordable rate for next year as well.

As usual, the Braves have a great farm system and are loaded with pitchers and JP Riciardi was just on ESPN radio saying that the two kids they got with Gonzo are quality prospects as well.

I think they said to themselves, ‘we’re selling low, but if we wait it’s going to be even lower’ so they made the move and will be in the playoffs partly because of this move.

5 years 1 month ago

4.3 War player or a career year guy with playoff experience. Hmm tough choices.

JP would say he likes the Braves side; after all he drafted the 2 prospects….

ronny9
5 years 1 month ago

4.3 WAR player that can’t get his head on straight enough to play hard for BOBBY COX on a first place team.

Pretty sure the Braves got rid of him for a reason.

I just look at the scouting reports for the prospects and they also got a high level reliever arm who strikes out more than 12 per 9IP and a middle infeilder with speed and on base skills (20 year old who already walks 10% of the time).

I think they cut their loses on a kid who thinks he’s the next Jeter even though all he had was ONE YEAR of 4.3 WAR; he’s not a 4.3 WAR player. That was last year buddy. Don’t get in over your head. the kid is hitting .238 on a first place team with NO HR’s and 19 RBIs in over 300 plate appearances.

By cutting their loses; they got a good serviceable player who’s hitting over his head power wise this year but is and will be a defensive stopper for them and they also got a reliever who will start next year on the big club (at 21/22 yrs old i think) and a middle infielder with good skills and upside.

Plus they get Gonzo for the rest of this year and, if they choose, next year on the cheap end.

Pat_M
5 years 1 month ago

There were unconfirmed reports that the Braves were getting tired of Escobar not living up to his potential and his attitude and that he could be moved if they were impressed with an offer. I must say that I am not at all impressed by this offer. Alex Gonzalez is a stalwart on defense but really has no offensive value besides the occasional homerun. Tim Collins supposedly has a great curveball and has a FIP under 2 in AA, but I’ve never even heard of Pastronicky. Pretty shocked the Braves made this move, personally.

austinhb
5 years 1 month ago

well we traded a young guy who couldnt get on base with an attitude, for a mid age guy who doesnt get on base but at least has a little pop, plus an inf and a great great prospect in tim collins, the guy has a career era of 2.4 and a k/9 ratio over 13 in his minor league career. This is like the vazquez deal where everyone overlooked that the braves got visciano

Pat_M
5 years 1 month ago

Even in a terrible year Escobar has an OBP of .334, and has never had a season with an OBP less than .360. In a “career year” Alex Gonzalez has a .296 OBP. I like the addition of Collins, but I just don’t see how Gonzalez is a better player than Escobar, even for the rest of the season.

schellis
5 years 1 month ago

If that’s all it took I wish the Reds would have sent them Cabrera and a couple of solid prospects.

Bob George
5 years 1 month ago

Cabrera’s defense has dropped way off in the last few years. He’s not in Gonzo’s league. Plus, Cabrera has his own reputation for being a hothead, and his hitting has also dropped way off, but Dusty sure loves him at the top of the batting order.

schellis
5 years 1 month ago

Watched Gonzalez at SS last year, he’s lost more then a step, and won’t be able to maintain his power. Honestly he isn’t really any better then Cabrera. The Reds best SS for the last two years has been Paul Janish but he’s not a Dusty favorite so he sits the bench.

5 years 1 month ago

True that!!!The Reds won 40+ games over the 2nd half of 2009 w/ Janish as the starting SS…But in Dusty’s world the SS is ALWAYS a #2 hitter. Janish is a #7/#8…but w/ a career UZR/150 of 14.1 as a SS…he’s one of the best gloves in the game!!!(JFYI, that UZR/150 is DAMN GOOD!!!)

Michael Brown
5 years 1 month ago

I still don’t believe this is all it took for the Braves to get rid of Esco….my mouth is still open.

Is Alex G. a few agent after the season?

Yankees420
5 years 1 month ago

He has a club option for 2.5MM next season.

5 years 1 month ago

Braves got a real gem in Collins (and a great story to boot, I’ll be sad to see him go) but Escobar is definitely the kind of guy I’m happy to have on the Jays!

baseballz
5 years 1 month ago

I got to agree, Collins is a real gem. Collin’s delivery is very similar to Tim Lincecum’s and I was actually very excited to see him pitch in the bigs once the rosters expanded. He added a cutter this year which he has really excelled at giving him three pitches that encouraged the Jays to think about trying him out in the rotation.

CosaOne
5 years 1 month ago

Thats it, they traded Escobar for a 33 year old having a career year?

5 years 1 month ago

Devestated as a Jays fan to lose Collins, many were hoping he’d be our closer of the future, but for that return I guess I can’t quibble too much.

penpaper
5 years 1 month ago

What?! I guess their view was that if they go to the playoffs, they’ll need a better attitude from their SS. But I’m not sure if Gonzalez is a big head too. either way, neither will be there for the long time.

this also means that salcedo isn’t far off. Opening day 2011???

paulyicecubes
5 years 1 month ago

Edward Salcedo is 18 years old and has about 100 plate appearances in pro baseball. He’s not even close to being ready.

5 years 1 month ago

Yea your right, but don’t you think that the braves will pick up Gonzalez’s option just to hold down short for next year?

5 years 1 month ago

they have to pick up his option, unless brandon hicks somehow goes ballistic and tears shit up to the point where he has to start…otherwise its going to be a race between mycal jones and edward salcedo to see who can take over short the quickest

FutureBravesGM18
5 years 1 month ago

Salcedo could end up playing at 3rd. Atleast that was what was said when he was signed.

smokinjays
5 years 1 month ago

No need to worry about gonzo’s attitude. He’s a heads down, play the game type of guy.

John Meloche
5 years 1 month ago

I dont know the Braves minor leagues system, but I would assume they must have some young SS prospects not too far off? Braves get a Veteran SS having a solid year & a good pitching prospect. Jays get a young SS they have been lacking for years…

austinhb
5 years 1 month ago

they have edward salcedo, and amazing and +++ potential ss, but hes only 18 and at least a few years off.

bbxxj
5 years 1 month ago

A very quick a dirty review of the Braves SS prospects:

1. Brandon Hicks: An older ready now type of prospect who is on the MLB bench right now. He plays plus defense at short with some power, patience and speed but serious contact issues are keeping him from being a viable option this year.

2. Mycal Jones: A toolsy SS in high A with much of the raw ability you look for in an athletic SS. He is still obviously developing and needs to clean up the amount of errors he makes.

3. Edward Salcedo: One of the biggest positional player signings from the international market for the Braves in a while. He has a rare combination of power, plate coverage, and speed but many think he will outgrow SS and have to move to third.

4. Matt Lipka and Andrelton Simmons: Our S and 2 round picks respectively. Lipka is the more all around top of the order type SS prospect that combines amazing athletic ability with contact/plate control and solid defense. Simmons was the top defensive prospect in the draft and has the arm to be a power reliever prospect if he/they wanted. His bat really needs to develop is he is going to make it to the bigs.

This is the biggest crop of SS talent the Braves have had in quite a while and it may be because they thought they may have to deal Escobar in the future (which is now now).

John Meloche
5 years 1 month ago

That would make sense as to why they are giving up on Escobar in exchange for the Homers for Alex… He should help the Braves in the Second half… they Jays are looking to unload the Vets… but surprised Alex was first to go however.

austinhb
5 years 1 month ago

yeah but they project lipka will move to center but still solid point

Andrew_EC
5 years 1 month ago

That’s still not a reason to sell low on Escobar.

5 years 1 month ago

Simmons is going to pitch. Don’t forget Diory Hernandez.

JonATLBraves
5 years 1 month ago

Spot on with your scouting reports, but I am still under the impression they are going to try and use Lipka as the toolsy, CF of the future. I’m seeing him as the white version of Michael Bourne. Myke Jones is similar as he just falls short of being a 5-tool with the glove and spotty defense. Simmons should be throwing. However, I think to waste their 2nd round on a guy by making him upset and not even sign would be an even bigger issue than changing him into the live-arm pitcher he is. Most people just don’t realize that with the depth we have in the minors right now, we can absorb this impact more than the trade of Andrus and Feliz (which tops the list as one of the most desperate GM moves of the century).

I don’t see Leonard or any of our minor league 3rd basemen developing the pop needed for the corner position, so I agree with Salcedo filling out, similar to Heyward’s growth, and moving to the hot corner.

14 Rocks
5 years 1 month ago

Nope, unfortunately they don’t. That’s what makes this trade incredibly stupid for the Braves.

zeroes
5 years 1 month ago

As a Jays fan, it’s sad to see Collins go. He’s a serious wildcard in this deal…fantastic stuff, even better numbers, but ultimately… he’s 5’7″ in platform shoes. So who knows.

Pastornicky (not Pastronicky) is a quality player. Still very young, has a chance to stick at short and has held his own with the bat (he’s in a pitcher-friendly park in a very pitcher friendly league). JP Ricciardi made some comments when the Jays signed Hechavarria, that they already had a shortstop of the future in Pastornicky.

Regardless, the upside that Escobar brings to the table is seriously worth it for the Jays

Yankees420
5 years 1 month ago

Wow, big surprise.

aap212
5 years 1 month ago

Awesome job, Blue Jays. Just fantastic. A top ten shortstop in his prime for a 33-year old glove having a flukey home run spike and a relief prospect (albeit a good and fun one).

Bob George
5 years 1 month ago

Wait until Escobar continues his rock-for-brains behavior in Toronto, you won’t be so happy then.

5 years 1 month ago

Jays fans have lived with an high-potential airhead before
see: Alex Rios.

Bob George
5 years 1 month ago

Yes, and the team loved it so much they put him on waivers.

It’s not so much that Escobar is an airhead, which he is, but that he’s also a punk. He walks around staring at other teams’ players like there’s a secret staring contest going on. But instead of looking intimidating he just looks like a little punk. He’s very much from the same mold as Ronnie Cedeno, another high talent SS who isn’t worth a damn either.

Nicolas_C
5 years 1 month ago

Correction: They loved the contract so much they put him on waivers

5 years 1 month ago

Meh, I don’t know if I would call Ronnie Cedano a “high talent shortstop”. He’s mediocre at best. Not sure if you were labeling Cedano as a punk here either but if so I don’t see it, for all his faults he doesn’t seem to be that kind of player or display that kind of attitude. Agreed though, he isn’t worth a damn.

aap212
5 years 1 month ago

I’m not a Blue Jays fan or a Braves fan. I’m just a baseball fan who thinks the Blue Jays made a great trade and the Braves made a bad one. Hardly anyone is boneheaded enough for me to not prefer six years of youth and 70 extra points of OBP.

aap212
5 years 1 month ago

Oh, and someone please explain BABIP to Frank Wren.

Katsumara
5 years 1 month ago

As a Braves fan, I’m actually satisfied with this move. IIRC, Collins has like.. a 15.3 K/BB ratio or something nuts like that in AA. While Gonzy’s having a career year.. Yunel’s attitude and propensity to hardly show real excitement at all for the game just infuriates me. I don’t care if he’s having a down year. It’s the fact that he doesn’t seem to even care he’s having a bad year..

austinhb
5 years 1 month ago

i agree as a braves fan myself i am content with this deal, yunels attitude just made me dislike him, i often found myself rooting against him even though hes on my favorite team

Sniderlover
5 years 1 month ago

Really sad to see Collins go but I love this trade!

AA is a magician!

5 years 1 month ago

This is pretty stupid IMO. I mean yeah, Yunel is having a down year and hes does need to mature a little bit, but he is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Not to take away anything from Alex Gonzalez, but this is horrible. Gonzalez will probably have a Bret Boone like season, but next year will be just average again. If I were a Blue Jays fan, I’d be having a pizza party tonight. They got a great prospect for practically nothing.