This is the second time Escobar has been traded this off-season, in early November the Marlins had acquired him in an 11-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Escobar had a down year at the plate in 2012, carrying a triple-slash line of
.253/.300/.344 with nine home runs over 608 plate appearances for the
Jays. He has not been a very consistent hitter over his career, having
peaks and valleys in most of his offensive categories from season to
season. In 2011, he carried a much better line of .290/.369/.413 with 11
home runs over 590 plate appearances, and posted a career best OPS of .812
in 2009 (excluding his shortened 2007 rookie season). One thing that
has been consistent throughout Escobar's career is his above average
fielding at the shortstop position, and the perception of him being bad
for a team's clubhouse.
In Tampa, the 30 year-old native of Cuba
is currently penciled in as the team's starting shortstop. By acquiring
Escobar, the Rays are following a formula that has worked for them in
the past - buying low on a player that has shown the potential to be one
of the better players in the game at his position. It also shows, they
are continuing to focus on putting a good defense on the field to back
up their above average pitching staff, more so than acquiring a
offensive minded player for a highly demanding defensive position.
is owed five million dollars in 2013, and has a five
million dollar club option for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. At that
price, he can be considered a low-risk/high-reward gamble, especially if
he plays well enough for the Rays to consider picking up his options for the
The Marlins, in return, get the salary relief
of trading away Escobar's five million dollar contract and infield prospect Derek
Dietrich. Dietrich has spent the last three seasons playing in Tampa's
minor league system, ending the 2012 season at Double-A Montgomery. In
the field, he had split time at second base and short when playing at the
different levels of Single-A ball, but only played second, and acted as
the team's designated hitter, once reaching Montgomery. Entering the
2012 season Baseball America
recognized the 23 year-old as the best power hitter in Tampa's system.
In his 146 plate appearances with Double-A Montgomery, he posted a
.271/.324/.429 triple slash line with four home runs and 36 strikeouts.
He figures to start the 2013 season with the Marlins Double-A
From a fantasy perspective, Yunel Escobar goes into
the 2013 season with a higher value than if he had stayed with the Miami
Marlins. As mentioned before, his offensive numbers are not
consistent, so he is only a true option in deeper mixed and AL-Only
leagues. Joe Maddon
and the Rays have done well with getting the most out of their
players, and maybe the fact the team traded for him will give Escobar a
reason to work a little harder. Derek Dietrich is a non-factor for
fantasy players, even in a deep franchise format.