Today in Blue Jay History: Jays Trade For Yunel Escobar

Yunel Escobar.(Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

Two years ago today: The Jays traded Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky to the Braves for Yunel Escobar and Jo Jo Reyes.

The Braves hit the All-Star break with a 52-36, good for a 4 game lead in the NL East, but were unhappy with Yunel. He wasn't hitting much, .238/.334/.284 in 75 games. On defense, he made the odd error, 9 to that point, for a .975 fielding average. Yunel was also personally not well liked by the Braves manager, players, or, for that matter, fans. Chipper Jones, in particular, seemed to dislike him and as Larry goes, so goes the Braves.

Gonzalez was having a very good first half of the season with the Jays. He had 17 home runs, 50 RBI and a .259/.296/.497 line in 85 games. He played solid, if unspectacular defense and had 11 errors for a .972 fielding average. Normally I wouldn't care about error rates but I listened to Brave broadcasters telling listeners that, while Yunel could make the spectacular play, he is far more likely to make an error on an easy play, in comparison to Gonzalez.

It was definitely a sell high/buy low trade for the Jays. Gonzalez was hitting far better than anyone imagined he could. Yunel had come off a 2009 season where he had hit .299/.377/.436, receiving some MVP votes, then couldn't hit at all in 2010.

After the trade, Yunel picked up the pace, some, with a .275/.340/.356 in 60 games. 2011 went much better, .290/.369/.413. This year not so great, .254/.299/.335. In total, 276 games as a Blue Jay, with a .276/.342/.377 line. His defense has been terrific.

Gonzalez, after the trade, hit .240/.270/.386, in 72 games, but the Braves went to the playoffs, though I think they would have made it with Yunel too. The Braves lost out, in the first round, to the Giants, 3-1. Gonzalez hit .200/.200/.267 in the 4 games. In 2011 Alex hit .241/.270/.373. So, as a Brave he hit .241/.277/.377 in 221 games. After the 2011 season he signed with the Brewers as a free agent.

The other players in the deal:

  • Tim Collins was traded to the Royals two weeks after this trade. He, Gregor Blanco and, our friend, Jesse Chavez went to Kansas City for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. Collins has a 3.55 ERA in 106 games, over the last season and a half with the Royals. He'd definitely be handy in our pen right now. Ankiel hit nothing (.651 OPS) for the Braves, in 2010. He left as a free agent after the season. Farnsworth had a 5.40 ERA in 20 inning, in 2010, as a Brave. He left as a free agent too.
  • Tyler Pastornicky had the starting shortstop job out of spring training, for the Braves. It didn't go well. He hit .248/.281/.324, with 2 steals, in 45 games, before being sent down to the minors. He might get another shot, Andrelton Simmons broke a finger and the Braves need someone to stand at the position.
  • Jo Jo Reyes, well you know. 5-8, 5.40 ERA in 20 starts as a Jay, before he was put on waivers and taken by the Orioles. Not that we wouldn't use him this year if we had him.

I doubt that anyone here believes the Jays lost this trade. Maybe there are some Braves fans that still hate Yunel, for whatever reason, that think they won it.. Most of us figured it was a win for the Jays right at the start, here is a poll I put up the day of the trade. There was some worry about Yunel's 'character', which seems like a label that all Latin American players have to deal with at some point during their careers. Middle infielders that don't hit are gritty, if white, lazy if they aren't.

It was a great trade Alex, just revisiting it makes me look forward to your next trade.

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