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Double Play: Anthopoulos adds upside with Escobar deal

Daan De Kerpel
7/14/2010 1:51:23 PM
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When Toronto Blue Jays' General Manager Alex Anthopoulos took over the job last winter, he spoke about wanting to keep trade talks quiet and after watching what happened to the Raptors - Bobcats proposed deal from earlier in the week you can't blame him, so naturally the Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar deal came out of no where.

With the deal being less than an hour old at the time of this writing, I'm going to go with my initial reaction to this - which could be dangerous - but I like the move for the Jays.

If I told Jays' fans before the season started that the team would be able to add a 27-year old shortstop who actually received National League MVP votes last season for a pair of players in the low minors and a 33-year old shortstop who is having a career first half, I'm guessing that they would have jumped at the chance - especially when you consider how long it's been that the Jays have had a long-term solution at the position.

Now, before you tag the Your! Call button, I realize that the Devil is always in the details, but I'm not really sure that there is that much to hate in the move.

I realize that Escobar is hitting only .238 this season with no home runs, but his .334 on-base percentage would tie him with Fred Lewis in second place behind the surprising Jose Bautisa in that category on the club. And if you've seen a lot of Jays' games this season, you haven't seen a great deal of base runners.

Also, you have to look at more than just this season. Last year, he hit .299 with 26 doubles, 14 home runs, 76 RBI and posted a .377 on-base percentage. The year before that, he batted .288 with 24 doubles, 10 home runs, 60 RBI with a .366 on-base percentage.

He's good with the glove, and if he can rebound with a change of scenery, much the same way that Alex Rios has rebounded in Chicago after a disastrous 2009 season spent mostly in Toronto, the deal could look a lot better for the Jays.

Almost just as important for a club that is watching their money, is the fact that Escobar will be under team control throught the 2013 season, as he's only eligible for arbitration at the end this year.

The move does come with some questions though. What does the addition of Escobar do to another recent team addition from Cuba in Adeiny Hechavarria?

I would say nothing at this point. Hechavarria is at least a full season - if not more away from being in the everyday plans for the club, and the addition of Escobar can give the Jays time so they don't have to rush Hechavarria.

If at the start of the 2012 season, the Jays have two capable shortstops ready to play everyday, I'm sure they'll be able to find a taker for one of them, as at any given time there is a fairly long list of teams looking to upgrade at that position.

The other question then becomes that of the upside of the two youngsters the Jays deal away in Tim Collins and Travis Pastornicky.

Collins, whose rise through the Jays system was covered by TSN.ca here, is popular with some hard core fans because of his peripheral numbers and small stature.

Pastornicky is a shortstop/middle infielder, who is still developing in A-ball, like most other 20-year olds.

If one guy becomes a star player, than obviously the Jays lose the deal, but if one or both are fringe or even average major leaguers down the road, it won't be the end of the world for the Jays.

Toronto is building for the future, and as Anthopoulos has shown in his previous deals to get guys like Brandon Morrow, he's looking for upside.

I think he's found that in Escobar.

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