Jays Deal With Braves: Escobar for Gonzalez

I was really interested to see what Alex Anthopolous was going get in return for Alex Gonzalez, if he was dealt at all. Well, now we know, and I have to admit that the haul he got was as good as could be expected under the circumstances. When we look at this deal from afar, we can evaluate what came back for what. In my estimation, the Jays sent Alex Gonzalez and Tyler Pastornicky in return for Yunel Escobar, and then sent Tim Collins in return for Jo Jo Reyes. Therefore, I’ll evaluate the pitching swaps seperately.

Alex Gonzalez is joined by SS Tyler Pastornicky who will take his place in the Braves system. Pastornicky will provide the Braves with another option at SS once Alex Gonzalez‘s salary expires after 2011, assuming the Braves pick up his option for that season at a cost of $2.5 million. The Braves get one of the best defensive SS in MLB in Gonzalez and more pop, something they are dearly lacking. This should help both their pitchers and their runs driven in numbers, and makes them better contenders in the NL East as a result. A solid deal for them that looks after both the present and the future at the SS position.

In Yunel Escobar, the Jays get a top notch young SS (will be 28 in November) that is under control through 2013 and who will enter his first year of Arbitration after 2010. The Jays are buying low on Yunel, something that is highly recommended when you’re building for the future and looking for value in trades. He has 2 seasons of 10+ HRs with .288 or above averages under his belt, so we know the potential to get better is there.

He’s not a big threat on the basepaths with 5 stolen bases being the norm on any given season, but he should provide the Jays with a much better OBP provider than any SS they’ve had in the lineup in a very long time. Yunel had a .385 OPB in his rookie season (07), .366 OBP in ’08, and .377 in ’09 – all of which are above average OBPs that will go a long way to making the Jays a better club in 2011. One of the major downfalls noticed this season is that even with all of the HRs the Jays have hit, games have been hard to win because a vast majority of those HRs have come with few players on base, if any. So, adding an above average OBP player such as Yunel to the lineup is a great addition, in my opinion.

Yunel is also a good defensive short stop with great range. He led the NL in assists at the position thus far this season with 250 and should be a very good DP partner to Aaron Hill. His fielding percentage should remain withing the .970s range.

One question that all fans will be asking is, what does this mean for Adeiny Hechavarria who was recently picked up for $10 million and is now playing in AA? Well, this my friends is the little stroke of genius that nobody noticed in this deal (yet). Yunel hails from Cuba and will play as the perfect mentor to Adeiny Hechavarria once he makes it to The Show. Not only does the familiarity of a similar background come into play, but Yunel also has close to 160 innings played at 3B and can easily shift to the position if need be. He also has time at 2B, which makes him a good back up plan to Aaron Hill should concussion issues resurface. Making Adeiny comfortable in Toronto once he arrives and providing him with a great mentor cannot be understated. It’s a great move for the clubhouse that will allow Yunel to pass on lessons learned to Adeiny with a better effectiveness than could otherwise have been achieved.

In Tim Collins, the Jays give up something that they had a ton of depth of: relief pitching in the minors that resemble the mould of a future closer. With Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar primed to compete for the closing role in the near future, the Jays could afford to deal Tim in order to acquire a SP that clearly needed a change of scenary. I would advise that Jo Jo Reyes’s acquisition may preclude the dealing of 1 or 2 SP by the Jays in the near future, as he has the stuff to become an effective #5 pitcher in 2011.

Reyes is 6’2″ 230 lbs, is another lefty for the Jays to use, and is also a “buy-low” player that the Jays received in this deal. His minors numbers indicate that he will be effective in MLB at some point. He has a 3.11 ERA and 1.317 whip in 188 innings in AAA and has struck out 9.5 hitters per 9 IP this season in AAA. The problem thus far has been that Jo Jo has given up a ton of HRs and has gotten hit a little harder when he pitches above the AA level. Still, if the Jays can find a way to rectify this issue, they could reap the huge rewards as Jo Jo does have good enough stuff to be a potential #3 or #4 if he brings everything together. Remember that it was at approximately this age period (24-25) that Ricky Romero was able to put his stuff together, so there is plenty of time for Jo Jo to emulate Ricky, or at least come semi-close to that.

All-in-all, I would say that this deal not only makes a ton of sense for 2010 and 2011, but that it makes sense for both squads for 2012 and beyond. The Braves needed another option in the pen because we know Billy Wagner won’t be around much longer. They needed more pop from their MI and better D if possible and they got that in Gonzalez. Their future at SS is still secure with Pastornicky coming up in HiA/AA range. They gave up Jo Jo Reyes who was beginning to be a pain in their sides, but who also becomes a nice project for the Jays and slots in ahead of the younger Jays SP prospects who may need more time to develop before making it to The Show (Drabek and Stewart). The Jays also get a SS that gives them exactly what they need, a high average hitter with above average OBP that will also mentor Adeiny Hechavarria once he makes it to the Jays. If required, Yunel can play all over the infield and gives the Jays a utility type option that is a huge asset over any long MLB season.

Therefore, with everything examined and said, I am a huge fan of this deal and look forward to seeing how well it benefits both squad. One last note is that my previous post about the signing of Shane Opitz, the 11th rd pick of the Jays in ’10, also plays into this as he was rumored to be assigned to HiA Dunedin after signing, which means that he replaces Tyler Pastornicky on that squad (if true – this has yet to be confirmed). The Jays also shed some salary in acquiring Yunel and the control time is a huge asset. When you look at what FA SS are coming up over the next 2-3 years, you can see that this is a huge asset for the Jays to have. I give Alex another A grade for gettting guys that the trading team had clearly given up on, a la Fred Lewis. If it winds up to be anything close in result, Jays fans will be smiling from ear-to-ear in 2011 and beyond.

Tags: Adeiny Hechavarria Alex Gonzalez Daniel Farquhar Fred Lewis Jo Jo Reyes Tim Collins Trystan Magnuson Tyler Pastornicky Yunel Escobar

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