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"


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Dave4G4e
4 years 11 months ago

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

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NL_East_Rivalry
4 years 11 months ago

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

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

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

Guest
4 years 11 months 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.

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NL_East_Rivalry
4 years 11 months 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.

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Ferrariman
4 years 11 months ago

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

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bigpat
4 years 11 months 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.

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austinhb
4 years 11 months 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

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bigpat
4 years 11 months 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.

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garlick
4 years 11 months 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.

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inkstainedscribe
4 years 11 months ago

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

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soxfan0928
4 years 11 months ago

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

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ronny9
4 years 11 months 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.

Guest
4 years 11 months 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….

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ronny9
4 years 11 months 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.