Aug. 22, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Miami Marlins infielder Jose Reyes against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsAlmost all the players the Toronto Blue Jays acquired this offseason aren’t replacing a former core player of the team. They’re just filling holes the Blue Jays had at the end of the 2012 season.
Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero were the only locks in the starting rotation so R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle aren’t replacing anyone. The Blue Jays didn’t have a left fielder or second basemen so Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis or Emilio Bonafacio aren’t replacing anyone.
At the end of the 2012 season the Blue Jays had a more than capable yet inconsistent shortstop in Yunel Escobar.
Yunel’s on base percentage in 2012 was .300 but before that he never had an on base percentage below .333 in all his big league seasons and was still good defensively in 2012. Escobar was also a part of the Blue Jays core, under contract, making a tiny $5 million in 2013 with tiny $5 million options in 2014 and 2015.
With the Blue Jays focus this offseason being the starting rotation it didn’t make sense for them to shop for a shortstop when they already had a good affordable one. Even if some fans felt they had to because of Yunel’s eye black incident.
In the Blue Jays efforts to fill the holes in their rotation with the Marlins trade the Blue Jays were also able to upgrade their shortstop from Yunel Escobar to Jose Reyes.
And boy is he an upgrade.
You can’t even compare the two players when it comes to speed. Reyes has 111 career triples and 410 career stolen bases. In the National League he’s been a 3-time stolen base champion and 4 time triples leader. Escobar has 8 career triples and 26 career stolen bases.
According to fangraphs Escobar’s single season career high in WAR is 4.4 in 2009. Reyes has had a higher WAR five times in his career. Reyes is also a year younger coming off a 4.5 WAR season while Escobar is coming off a 1.8 WAR season.
For what it’s worth Reyes is a 4-time All-Star, the 2011 NL batting champion, and won the silver slugger for NL shortstops in 2006. All things that Escobar has never done.
Reyes has also been playing in very pitcher friendly home ballparks his entire career so playing half his games at Rogers Centre should only inflate his numbers.
As mentioned earlier, Escobar had 1 guaranteed year left on his contract with 2 team options on 2014 and 2015. If you count Reyes’s team option on the end of his contract, the Blue Jays could have Reyes through the 2018 season. If Escobar had a repeat of his 2012 season in 2013, chances are the Jays wouldn’t have picked up the option on his contract anyway. Now they’ll have the shortstop position covered for a long time with a star player.