Braves Deal Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez
Interesting deal… The Braves seem to be gearing up for the pennant race, dealing the frustrating waste of talent that is Yunel Escobar for the veteran presence of Alex Gonzalez.
Here’s the breakdown from the always highly recommended ROTOWORLD:
Blue Jays acquired SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes from the Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez, LHP Tim Collins and INF Tyler Pastronicky.
BLUE JAYS RECEIVE:
Escobar is an incredibly frustrating talent, but we can’t help but think that the Braves sold incredibly low here. It was only months ago that he was regarded as one of the top young shortstops in the game. The 27-year-old batted just .238/.334/.284 with zero homers and 19 RBI during the first half, but this is a worthwhile gamble for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Under team control through 2013, the Jays have plenty of time to see if he can match his potential.
Reyes has a 5.70 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) with Triple-A Gwinnett this season, though he has averaged 9.5 K/9. The 25-year-old left-hander made one appearance this season with the Braves on April 12, giving up nine runs over 3 1/3 innings. The AL East probably isn’t the best place for him, but there’s still No. 4 starter upside here.
In a bold move, Gonzalez will replace Yunel Escobar as the Braves’ starting shortstop. The 33-year-old batted .259/.296/.497 with 17 homers and 50 RBI during the first half, though we’d be shocked if he can maintain this pace in the National League. The Braves are going to sell this trade on Gonzalez’s veteran presence and steady glove, but that won’t change the fact that he has only walked in 4.9 percent of his at-bats this season and has a .294 career on-base percentage. Gonzalez will make roughly $1.2 million for the rest of this season. His contract includes a 2.5 million club option for 2011, but this sounds more like the move of a club who is gearing up for short-term stability over long-term potential.
Collins has a 2.40 ERA in parts of four seasons in the minor leagues. Working in relief with Double-A New Hampshire this season, the 20-year-old southpaw has a 2.51 ERA in 35 appearances, averaging an eye-popping 15.3 K/9 over 43 innings. Checking in at 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, Collins was ranked as the Blue Jays’ No. 19 prospect by Baseball America over the winter.
Pastronicky, a former fifth-round pick in 2008, has a .264/.340/.355 batting line over parts of three seasons in the minor leagues. A right-handed hitter, the 20-year-old has batted .258/.348/.376 with six homers, 35 RBI and seven stolen bases for High-A Dunedin this season, splitting time between shortstop and second base. He’s not going to hit for much power, but with his speed, he could make for a useful utility infielder someday. Pastronicky was ranked as the Jays’ No. 17 prospect by Baseball America before the season.
I think this move helps the Braves this season, but not by much. On the other hand, I don’t think they’re giving up anything substantial.