You get the feeling that Jon Morosi likes smothering his traffic bread in delicious Jays-fan butter, so it’s kinda of little surprise that he’s rumour mongering once again today in his latest for Fox Sports, as he tosses this nugget into the Jays section of his team-by-team breakdown of the up-for-grabs AL East:
In the near term, keep an eye on shortstop Yunel Escobar. Once prospect Adeiny Hechavarria arrives in the majors — which could happen any day now — the Blue Jays will have the flexibility to move Escobar for pitching. The A’s, Mariners and Pirates are possible trade partners, because they have pitching depth and a lack of production at shortstop.
It’s interesting, though.
I mean, I suppose that moving Escobar would make total sense if the Jays if they felt that his overall numbers this season– a .300 OBP and .275 wOBA– reflected his true talent level, because that’s probably about what you can expect from Hechavarria, who’d then improve the club with his otherworldly defence. But I don’t know why anybody would think that’s where Escobar is truly at.
Shit, in May he hasn’t even really hit his stride yet, but he’s well beyond his putrid April numbers, putting up a .313 wOBA with a .342 OBP in the season’s second month, and his walk rate is up to 8.1%– much closer to his career 9.4% rate.
If he continues to start hitting more like we know he can, Hechavarria would have to provide a massive upgrade on defense to be worthwhile to a Jays team that thinks it can hang around in the American League East, and right now, that’s a tough row to hoe, as Escobar is the seventh best defensive shortstop in the Majors per UZR, and has accumulated the 27th most WAR of any player in baseball in the DRS-based– i.e. shift-broken– Baseball Reference system.
There are sample size issues with those numbers, of course. Regardless, even just by the good, old fashioned eye test, Escobar has been pretty alright, and as much as I’m curious to see Hechavarria on the diamond, I’m not real optimistic about what we’re going to see at the plate. Until the Jays decide to throw in the towel on 2012– which certainly hasn’t happened yet, and may not happen at all– I’m not sure what the rush would be to jettison Escobar and his $5-million salary for 2013, plus two $5-million club options for the following years, in order to bring in a tantalizing, yet unproven commodity.
Yes, all the positives we see about him gives him nice value on the trade market, and could allow them to use him in a deal for a pitcher, if they think that’s what’s more needed, with a ready-made backup waiting in Vegas. But then I suppose it comes down to the question of how fucking ready is Hechavarria, really.
With Vegas numbers so impossibly fucking skewed, it’s hard for us to guess, but if the Jays really wanted to find out, why not tell Kelly Johnson to suck it up and play left field for a bit, and let the kid take some get some Big League at-bats? If that happens, maybe I believe this is a real course of action the club may consider taking, but until then, I think I’m not buying it.
That said, I’m totally just spitballin’, and actually, I’ve come around a bit Morosi’s notion over the course of writing all this a little. Indeed, acquiring a pitcher may a bigger necessity than keeping Escobar’s bat if this team is going to really stay in the hunt, and Hechavarria’s availability could nicely mitigate the loss and create an overall win for the club. It’s just… he has to be able to hit enough to keep himself in the lineup, and without knowing that (and suspecting not), I’m thinking your four-win shortstop is, in addition to other pieces, kind of a hefty fucking price to pay to accommodate such a move, even if Escobar hasn’t quite looked himself yet this year.
Um… isn’t it?