Once a highly regarded Atlanta Braves prospect who burst onto the Major League scene with a .326 average as a rookie in 2007, Yunel Escobar fell out of favor in Atlanta and will now likely be placed on the trading block this off-season by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Struggling at the plate this season with a .251 average and a .642 OPS in 558 plate appearances, the 29-year-old Escobar was suspended for three games by the Blue Jays after he played this weekend with a homophobic slur written on his eye black.
According to CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, the Blue Jays tried to trade Escobar before July’s non-waiver trade deadline, but they did not find a satisfactory deal. Even though his offensive numbers are down this season, he has a reputation as a difficult teammate and he found himself in the news this week with the suspension, Escobar will draw interest from teams that need a shortstop, Knobler believes. Knobler suggested Arizona and Detroit as two potential destinations.
A career .282 hitter over six Major League seasons, Escobar was projected as Atlanta’s shortstop for the long term when he batted .326 with five home runs and a .837 OPS in 355 plate appearances as a rookie in 2007. He even hit .299 with 14 home runs and 76 RBI in 2009, but the Braves grew tired of Escobar’s questionable attitude and traded him with pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto for veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez, Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins in July 2010.
The Blue Jays were praised for making a wise move at the time, but now they appear anxious to put an end to the Escobar era in Toronto.