I don’t know why we’re hearing so much of this stuff, except perhaps because we know the Jays are neither going to confirm it or deny it, but today we have yet another rumour-mongering involving Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, this time from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 18, 2012
Now, it’s undeniable that it makes a little bit of sense to think the Jays might see the value in dealing Escobar and his very friendly contract. Adeiny Hechavarria may be more ready with the bat than I generally tend to believe, and this week’s promotion of Anthony Gose may indicate that we should believe even less about a prospect’s weak PCL stats than we already do. And though I don’t think I’m wrong in believing that the defensive value Hechavarria could provide probably isn’t nearly enough to offset the gulf between his bat and Escobar’s when he’s going well, it’s pointed out to me every time we’ve gone through this exercise that there may be more value in having Hechavarria plus whatever Escobar can be traded for, than there is in either shifting the younger Cuban to second base or slating him for the minors as a redundant piece.
And right now Escobar’s bat doesn’t look anything close to what it has at his peak.
As the Atlanta Braves appeared to notice a couple years ago, when Yunel isn’t going well, he really isn’t going well, and with a peak monthly wOBA of just .312 in May, and a somehow-even-worse-than-April .217 thus far in July, you could be forgiven for wondering why you’re so sure the club maybe couldn’t be getting more out of Hechavarria than Escobar.
Thing is, though, we know Escobar has a pretty terrific ceiling as an offensive shortstop, having put up a .345 wOBA with a .369 on-base last season, and that he can succeed with a groundball rate verging on 60%, as he has now and as he did last year (albeit 1.8% lower). He’s swinging at more pitches this year, and his walk rate is way down, presumably as a consequence, but it’s not like there are a whole lot of red flags screaming at us to say that he can’t go back to being a whole lot more successful. Awful as it’s looked, I’d argue that there’s still talent there.
Whether or not you believe that talent will be still be suiting up for the Jays at the end of the month actually comes down to just how seriously you take these kinds of reports.
True, Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail has been hearing rumblings, writing a week ago, for example, that “there are still nights when he leaves his manager and teammates wondering ‘Wow, is that really all there is?’” But Heyman’s saying that he “keep[s] hearing” that the club wants to deal is pretty fucking nebulous.
I mean, sure, Escobar seems to rub people the wrong way, and when his results aren’t there to make it all better, maybe someone starts to wonder if he’s worth having. And when you see the fantastic contract he signed and what an asset he’d be on the trade market, given that there’s very possibly a ready-made replacement for him in Las Vegas, you wonder more. But all the reasons there are for other clubs jumping at the chance to acquire him are reasons the Jays should want him too, and all the Jays’ reasons for being high on Hechavarria are reasons that may animate other clubs to seek him out.
We just don’t know. Everybody is in play, and it’s possible that one of these guys isn’t in the long-term plans, but who the hell possibly knows until something actually happens? Only Anthopoulos, I figure.
Hat tip to MLBTR for the link. Image via Kyle Rivas/Getty.