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Trade Option – Yunel Escobar

July 18, 2012

With the trade season underway and rumors or lack of, depending on who you believe, floating around most fans of their respective teams start looking at ways their team can improve at the deadline. The Athletics have played themselves into an interesting place of late because of how they closed out the first half and started the second. But with, at the moment, a less than 10% chance of seeing the postseason, should the really make a/any move(s)? I will talk about later.

One of the names that has been tied with the A’s of late is Yunel Escobar. It is know that the Athletics are looking for shortstop help (o rly?!) and Escobar could certainly be an upgrade at the plate of Pennington. But should the A’s try to sneak him away from the Blue Jays? I am no so sure they should.

Now whether you believe in “clubhouse chemistry” or not, Escobar is not someone I get a warm fuzzy feeling about. His time in Atlanta was shortened mainly because of his relationship with Bobby Cox (think Rasmus/TLR) and his ability to not really give a rip at times. Apparently now the Blue Jays are “soured” with him and could look to move him. I have no idea what the reason behind that is, but I would not say he is having some of the same problems. But “clubhouse chemistry” is not something I really care about, so why am I down on him? TO THE CLOUD! …. er, numbers.

When I look at Escobar’s numbers, I see a declining hitter. While he was in Atlanta he was pretty valuable, putting up 10.7 WAR in three-plus years with a .291/.368/.403/.771 OPS. If he was still producing like that, I’d be fine with getting him. As you could probably guess, he is not. So far through three-plus years with Toronto he is currently hitting .273/.339/.376/.715 OPS with 8.o WAR. Is this an upgrade? Yes, but for how long. Escobar doesn’t necessarily hit for a lot of power. He is someone who will hit for more doubles power than home runs. If he were to move to he would be leaving a park that has a Park Factor (2B’s RHH) of 108 to 93.

It is true that he would be an upgrade over Pennington at short, but only nominally. Both are close to league average fielders for their position, .968 for Pennington and .976 for Escobar. League average being .974. By FRAA both rank very well this year, 5.4 for Pennington and 8.2 for Escobar. Now Escobar does have a 32.7 career FRAA, but this is the first time he has posted a positive one since going to Toronto. So now you are looking at basically a bat-only improvement at shortstop.

One of the good things about Escobar is that he is relatively cheap by cost, owed $5MM over the next two-year with two years of team options after that. But what if he does not work out? What if we want to flip him? And I am not talking about this “Moneyball” bullshit that some people bemoan. As Matt Damon’s character is Rounders mentions, you always have to leave yourself an out. Will he be worth anything if we trade for him and he flops or just does not produce offensively? This is something you have to take into consideration, and the reason I would just rather not go after him. I do not expect the A’s making the playoffs, as I will write about later, and adding Escobar is not going to significantly add to their chances.


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