Washington Nationals Trade Yunel Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels continued to rebuild their middle infield and their lineup when they traded reliever Trevor Gott and minor league pitcher Michael Bradley to the Washington Nationals for second baseman/shortstop Yunel Escobar. The move accompanies their previous acquisition of Andrelton Simmons to give the Angels and a new and improved double play combination.
Why the Angels make this trade
Watching the Angels last year was at times infuriating for their fans. The team seemed to be Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Kole Calhoun and pray for something miraculous to happen. Erick Aybar and minor leaguers were traded to make room for all-world defender Andrelton Simmons, but second base continued to be a hole you could drive a Ford truck through. With all apologies to Taylor Featherston, second base was a dumpster fire for the Angels after they dealt Howie Kendrick across town.
The Angels were in first place last year in the AL West for a few days, but they wilted down the stretch because Trout and Pujols couldn’t keep their torrid pace up. They had to bring in reinforcements and now the Angels have two competent position players in the middle infield. Escobar certainly isn’t a sexy acquisition and my colleagues may wonder why I bother profiling this trade. I’ll highlight some points for you later. The key for the Angels is they brought in one more credible position player and they may not be done.
Why the Nationals made this trade
The Nationals are prepared to go to their future. They have Trea Turner ready to take over at shortstop. They are hoping Anthony Rendon can finally stay healthy for a full season and they still have Danny Espinosa who can play a very credible second base. All three have question marks that made Escobar excellent insurance, but they thought cashing that in to help their bullpen made more sense.
Trevor Gott had an excellent rookie campaign under the radar in Los Angeles. He had a 3.02 ERA in 48 games after being called up from the minors. The Nationals are hoping that a recently signed Oliver Perez, Shawn Kelley, and Gott will help support Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen in the pen. Storen is rumored to be on the trading block and Papelbon is a ticking time bomb. Having extra insurance in the pen made perfect sense for the Nationals and having a deep pen is all the rage in the game today.
What this trade means for you
I come here not to bury Yunel Escobar, but to praise him. At first glance, it would appear that profiling such a player in fantasy circles is a waste of time. I get it. He isn’t flashy and he doesn’t put up huge numbers in any individual category. Let’s take a look at the career numbers and drop last season’s .314 average. His career average is a respectable .281 and that is likely where he will end up in 2016. Still, we are talking about a middle infielder that has hit between five and ten home runs nearly every season (occasionally more and occasionally less). His career OPS of .735 is pretty decent for someone that is eligible at two to three fantasy positions.
If we go according to his 162 game average, he is a .281/10/77/60 guy. The Angels have a pretty good lineup and it could end up getting better before the winter is over. That could throw Escobar into 80 run and 70 RBI territory. It’s high time we recognize that this isn’t your older brother’s MLB. Offensive numbers are down and we have to adjust our expectations. There are fewer and fewer middle infielders out there that are going to hit 20+ home runs a season. So, Escobar may not be the top guy off your board, but if you add him later to your bench you will likely get some use out of him at some point in the season.