Rating the Jays Trade for Yunel Escobar

In what works out to essentially a 3 for 1 deal, the Blue Jays traded Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky for Yunel Escobar and throw in Jo-Jo Reyes.

Initial Escobar Thoughts


I’ve seen Yunel live once (back in 2008) and on TV around ten times over the years. He strikes me as a superb athlete that has momentary flashes of brilliance. I’ve seen the Alex Rios comparison numerous times and I’m on board. Can the change of scenery do Yunel some good or will he always be a player that falls just short of living up to his potential?

What he brings to the table:

* Yunel has shown that he can hit for an average, which is a repeatable skill (look at Placido Polanco).

* He can take a walk and limit his Ks. This season he’s at a career high 12+% BB per PA. BUT this could be coming to an end…

* He slugs historically around league average, primarily in the form of doubles

* He has a flashy glove. While fielding percentage isn’t “cool” these days, his mark of .975ish year after year lends itself to the mental lapses that many Braves fans point to

* His UZR is at a career high level this season

* This season Yunel has already made 54 out-of-zone plays. His career high is 60.

Two Reasons why he was dealt

1. I’m not privy to what has been said internally over in Atlanta but all signs point to Yunel being a pain in the ass and a detriment to a clubhouse. Can the Jays turn him around? I hope so, the last thing this young club (and particularly the 2011 version) needs is a clubhouse cancer.

2. He’s having a terrible season. He has the sixth lowest ISO of any major leaguer (with qualified PA), he’s hitting .238 with 0 HR in 301 PA.

What’s going on this season?


* He’s walking at career high rates

* Plate discipline in terms of chasing pitches is right around career norms

* Line-drive percentage (18.4%) is right around his career mark. This could also be a negative.

* Despite all of his struggles he still has a .334 OBP


* One stat that sticks out, by year (ie, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010):

In-field-fly-balls % (IFFB / total FB): 3.2%, 3.6%, 3.6%, 11.4%

* I expect the walks to shrink. I can’t see AL pitchers giving such a low ISO player a walk. What’s the worst case scenario, that he’ll hit a single? He’s walked 6 times in the past 20 games.

* His BABIP is .270 and is pointed to as a turnaround stat. His past two seasons were .311 & .317. This year’s mark isn’t an Aaron Hill like anomaly. With the lack of ISO and the LD% being at career marks, there are no guarantees that the BABIP is going to change. Outgoing Alex Gonzalez’s BABIP is only .274 this season.

Jo-Jo Reyes (LHP)


While Jo-Jo has bounced up and down, he’s pitched nearly a full season (194 IP) over his MLB career.

In that time he’s allowed 33 HR, 226 hits, and 128 K vs 98 BB. He allows a 15.2% HR/FB ratio, a stat that I can’t see playing well in the Rogers Centre.

His FIP is 5.64, xFIP 4.95 and his overall ERA is 6.40. He’s only 25 years old and throws four pitches, a 90 – 91 MPH two-seam fastball, an 83 MPH slider, 76 MPH curve and an 85 MPH change. According to fan graph pitch value stats his fastball is slightly below average, his slider is junk, his curve is up and down. Jo-Jo’s best pitch at the MLB level is the change.

I’m at a loss on why the Jays would acquire Jo-Jo. I might have preferred the proverbial bag of balls. Can he be converted into a replacement level bullpen arm? I’ll give AA the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the Jays can work their magic once again.

What the Jays gave up

There’s no need to go over Alex Gonzalez. He’s over-producing but is historically a 15 – 20 HR a year type player with solid D. The $$$, age and lack of control where all factors in the trade.

Two Decent Prospects


Callum has written extensively on Tim Collins (A must read). Personally I would have put Collins on my untouchable list until he hit AAA. He’s absolutely dominated at every level in pro ball, including this season in AA. Kyle Drabek has struck out 85 in 113 IP in AA this season. Tim Collins has 73 K… in 43 IP. Scouting aside, Collins gets the job done. I hate parting with him.


Tyler Pastornicky has been pegged as an MLB utility infielder with solid, unspectacular D at the SS position. He was named to the FSL all-star team. He has some speed (57 SB in 2009, 24 in 2010) and is developing some pop. He’s displayed good plate discipline, walking 39 times vs 49 K. One positive development for Tyler is the slight power surge he’s exhibiting this season. He has 6 HR in 77 games. In roughly 275 games prior to this season he hit only 2 HR. A good all around athlete, his upside is attractive

At the end of the day the Jays gain:

* A younger SS (27…. although that’s his official Cuban age)
* A legitimate OBP threat if he can regain even a slight power stroke
* Spectacular, showy D that will frequent the highlight reels
* Upside. While risky I think the 2010 version of Yunel is the downside, with a return to 2008/2009 form being the upside
* Contract control for three more seasons, although Yunel is due a substantial raise at the end of this season

What they give up:

* A season and a half of decent HR production from Alex Gonzalez
* Possibly sanity in the clubhouse
* A decent compensation draft pick after 2011 for the outgoing Gonzalez
* A strikeout machine in Tim Collins
* A great athlete with upside in Tyler Pastornicky

The winner/loser of this deal won’t be apparent for a few seasons. Will Yunel rebound? What will become of Collins & Pastornicky? Only time will tell, although personally I feel that the Jays may have given up too much in this 3 for 1 trade-off.

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11 replies on “Rating the Jays Trade for Yunel Escobar”
  1. I’m firmly in the camp that believes that the rumblings of Yunel being a “clubhouse cancer/pain in the ass/detriment to the clubhouse/” is overblown. By all accounts he is a very agreeable person and good teammate. The issue arises from his flashy play and bravado exhibited between the lines. Old school manager Bobby Cox and clubhouse leader Chipper Jones don’t like that type of play but hey, that’s the Cuban style and he’s been doing it his whole life.

    I am concerned most with his mental lapses and perceived lack of hustle. Hopefully magic-man Brian Butterfield can shore up his defensive game. As for not running out ground balls, he has had groin issues in the past so perhaps he is saving himself for when it really matters…

    1. Because it exhibits he’s still hitting the ball hard but not for power. ( I put the low ISO, 0 HR a paragraph above the LD statement)

      His stroke has to be different and geared towards singles contact as opposed to hitting for the gaps, and long linedrive HR power.

      I would have much rather seen a lower LD% to go with the 0 HR and piss poor ISO.

      Can it be fixed? That is an absolute key for getting Yunel back on track offensively.

  2. says: Oscar Miranda

    Well i have to tell this trade didn’t surprised me but i feel really happy for Yunel.
    I know him since he was a Cuban Prospect from whom a lot of good things were expected. Being honest he never developed to this great star back in CUba but he showed flashes of a great talent.

    Right now here in USA he has been nothing more than a great underrated player. A shorstop who is able to play good defense and give the fans flashy plays “a la” Ozzie. Offensive he can be considered in the Derek Jeter territory of course without the speed.

    Going back to the allegedly “tumor teammate” problems that he is accused of, I have to say that knowing my people for having a different way of reacting, this could had been the big deal. Let’s be realistic he was playing in GEORGIA where if I’m not wrong racists are as usual as hot chicks are in Brazil. Obviously Yunel not being fluent in English didn’t help a lot.

    It may be just me but this was a great steal from the Jays, and remember that with Yunel on the team they are giving a future help to a fellow guy named Adeinis.

    Perhaps my national pride is blinding me but Yunel,I’m pretty sure, is going to back up my words.
    Let’s hope for it.

    Oscar Miranda

    1. says: Kman

      I hope so as well Oscar.

      If Yunel can turn things around with the bat then he’ll be a top 10 MLB caliber SS.

      Worst-case scenario Yunel continues his poor batting performance but provides great D. Even Yunel’s downside is better than John McDonald’s overall skill set.

  3. says: dave

    I have to say that it was a great assessment until you mentioned the two throw in prospects of Tiny Tim and Pastornicky.
    While I must admit that Tiny Tim’s numbers at all levels have been off the chart impressive, I think we need to realize that his career potential is that of a situational lefty/set up guy. Given that at best he projects as a very solid second opinion out of the ‘pen I can’t help but think your eval may have been a little too glowing. As for Pastornicky grind it out speedster with little pop and a good glove are a dime a dozen. He projects as maybe a utility guy, which again is simply not that valuable in the short or long term.
    Again as you mention it all depends on Escobar bouncing back but I think you have to like the idea of trading a stop SS and a couple of possible fringe major leaguers for a guy that when he’s n is a great defensive player, with enough pop to matter and a good plate approach.
    I agree I don’t think it’s the slam dunk some project but I would (at least at this juncture) chalk this up in the win column for AA.

  4. says: Early

    First of all, great article Kman.

    I like this trade. A-Gon was a place keeper SS for the Jays. I thought that Hechevarria was the SS of the future but Escobar might be a better option with A-Hech struggling in AA.

    You get a younger cheaper player with more upside for longer. I would take that before tumour rumours.

    The prospects is what may hurt the Jays. But Jays are heavy in pitching talent and the middle infield remains a question if something is seriously wrong with A-Hill or they have perma-fillers at SS like they have had since the departure of A-Gon the original about 10 years ago.

    And as Kman said, this finally allows the Jays to fire Johnny Mac.

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