[Update] Rays have now officially announced the deal.

[Update] Marc Topkin is now reporting that is a done deal.

[Earlier] Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com is reporting (via Twitter) that the Rays are close to completing a trade with the Marlins for shortstop Yunel Escobar. In exchange, the Marlins would acquire minor leaguer Derek Dietrich.

Escobar is a plus-defender who hit .253 with 9 home runs, 5 stolen bases, a .300 OBP (.284 wOBA) for the Blue Jays this past season. He was recently acquired by the Marlins as part of their infamous firesale trade which sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson (and two others) to the Blue Jays. His best seasons offensively came in 2007-09 with the Braves when he hit .301 with a very strong .375 OBP.

Escobar may be best known for an incident this past season in which a Blue Jays fan took a photo of Escobar and later noticed that his eyeblack had gay slur written on them. He was suspended three games for the incident.

This move should not come as a surprise. Escobar fits the mold of Rays middle infielders and the type of player they like to acquire. He is a good defender and while he has struggled offensively in the last couple of years, he has shown a good ability to get on base in the past.

He also comes at a reasonable cost with little risk. his contract is essentially a one-year deal for $5 million in 2013. The Rays would also have $5 million options for 2014 and 2015 if they decide he is worth keeping beyond the upcoming season.

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19 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    We stole him IMO. People will talk about his character but you know what? To me, if he helps us win, we did very well. Helping the team is all I care about and Zo is better at 2B/OF also.

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  2. J 2.0 says:

    I think it is a good move on paper. The guy does field well and hits better than any other SS we have in his worst year. It gives us leverage to add Hak Ju Lee in a deal to get more talent. Problem is, he needs to fit into our clubhouse. It all comes down to Longo. Longoria is the leader of this team and needs to make sure that Escobar buys into the Rays way of doing things. No more attitude problems and no more eye black messages.

    Now, there did seem to be some real interest in Escobar other than the Rays. Most likely, if healthy and produces, this guy could be the SS of the Rays for the next 3 years. When Lee develops, Escobar could be dealt. With that said Escobar could also be paired with a pitcher for a more attractive offer before ever playing as a Ray. He's already been dealt twice this offseason, why not 3 times?

    At the end of the day I think Longoria and Maddon will be able to get Escobar to buy into the system for a period of time. Whether that time is 1 season, 1 month, or the full 3 year term, there will be a period of time where this looks like a good move. I still think moves are on the horizon. I think the lineup to this point as a solid foundation. Upton is going to be missed people. Big time. But I think we are building a solid 6 year plan here. Maybe more.

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  3. Rob says:

    The trade seems okay, but $5m seems like a lot to me. He is going to be the 3rd highest paid position player (by a wide margin) behind Longo and Zobrist.

    Maybe the Rays feel like this is the only way to get a CF? Move Zobrist to RF on a more regular basis, Joyce in left, and Jennings in CF?

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    • Beth says:

      Have you seen what free agent shortstops are getting? Marco Scutaro, at age 37, is getting nearly $7 million guaranteed for three years. The fact that he's earning a lot relative to the other Rays is only reflective of the ability of the Rays to get by with very modestly paid players. Where exactly are they going to get a competent shortshort for less than $5 million?

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  4. Joe says:

    According to Jon Heyman and common sense, we aren't done. We still have all our pitchers and next to no power. Helly or Shields days are still numbered and most people disagree but I hope it's Helly that goes.

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    • J 2.0 says:

      If you really think about it, Shields and Hellboy will be on the team in 2014. Price is the only one that can get top tier hitting and a top pitching prospect to take his place right now.

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  5. Rumpy says:

    This acquisition frees up Zobrist for more outfield duty. Its no secret the Rays need OF help and this indirectly fills two needs.

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  6. Andy says:

    Hope J 2.0 is right @ this guy being used as future trade fodder!! If not, & he takes the field in Tropicana Field, then that will be another slap in the face by the team/organization than the ones already there, directed at the GLBT community. Already there are at least 2 very conspicuous displays of the Rays' disregard for its Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual fans!!

    Unfortunately, Chick-Fil-A is a major sponsor there! Yes, the same company that has donated $5 million to major anti-Gay organizations, and staunch supporter of "Biblical families", a term their President used in an NBC interview. The Trop prominently displays a corporate logo/ad in far Right Field. They also use a gimmick during every game featuring the company's bovine symbol.

    Until now, I've given the Rays the benefit of the doubt since most of the anti-Gay info has come to light recently. However, if they put Escobar on the field, they are, in effect, thumbing their noses at the local GLBT community/fans!! Some may say that this player apologized so he's no longer an issue. What he did was appease the masses w/bullshit!!

    A few years ago I asked the Rays' brass what it would take for a player to come out as Gay. Matt Silverman said the player would have to be strong enough to do so and refuted the notion that his club could/should do anything to assist the player in making this choice. Well, this trade surely lets any potential Gay Ray know to keep the closet door shut!! So, I say package him up & trade him away!!!

    Btw, there are many other ways to win - and lose - than the runs that are scored/prevented on the field. Just sayin . . .

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    • Beth says:

      Andy, I understand your concerns, but if the Rays avoided signing any player who was ever heard or seen using an anti-gay slur, our entire team would consist of Ben Zobrist, Sam Fuld, Gabe Kapler and Fernando Perez. Luke Scott was know for having made derogatory remarks about Hispanics before coming here -- his dismal hitting last year aside, did you think that the Rays were insulting the local Hispanic community when signing him?

      I don't think the Rays front office is responsible for idiotic things players did before even coming to the Rays. Their job is to field a good team, and along the way to insure that the players who are actually on their payroll are respectful of the community.

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      • Andy says:

        Beth, thanks for your reply. The reasons I feel strongly re: the trade for Escobar are b/c his offense was very blatant & public, w/o any seeming regard for those who are Gay! And b/c a Rays executive failed to consider how any of his team's actions might influence a potential Rays player to cross what many see as the last line of bigotry -- coming out while active in 1 of the 4 major sports in America. Too many people fail to realize the potential power of such an act, but those who are aware await the revelation of our 'Jackie Robinson'. Acts such as Escobar's tend to delay this moment, especially the way the Jays organization dealt with it - or didn't deal w/it! And, Silverman's (& by deference, Freidman's) failure to recognize how the team's actions can encourage, or discourage, a Ray from being that fulcrum-tipping guy.

        I invite any of you that might think I'm overreacting to consider how your reaction(s) might change if instead of the Spanish equivalent for the F-word, Escobar had used the equivalents for the N-word or the C-word. African Americans & women are classes of people that most feel deserve protection from overt displays of bigotry/hatred. Gay men, not so much.

        Honestly, I've yet to decide if I'm going to attend any games next year. Sure would help if that damn cow wasn't there!!

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    • Mike says:

      Nobody cares.

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      • Sarah says:

        Wow, Mike, you must be quite the oracle, able to speak for everyone!

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      • Craig says:

        I don't think the fact Escobar offended some people is grounds that the man shouldn't be able to continue earning his living. Hopefully, he'll keep his nose clean in the future and be able to contribute without unnecessary distractions. $5 million is a bargain in this market. The Rays are an improved team with Escobar. We're one more bat away from making a go at the division in 2013. Call me optimistic.

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  7. deezy333 says:

    Remaining moves:

    - RP Caesar Ramos and C+ Prospect for OF/1B Mike Morse

    or

    - SP Wade Davis for DH Josh Willingham

    - SP Jeremy Hellickson for OF Wil Myers

    - Sign RP Mark Lowe and RP Joey Devine

    - C Jose Lobaton and C prospect for C Hank Conger

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    • phil says:

      we should keep Hak Ju Lee, he needs a year in AAA anyway and who knows how Escobar is going to turn out...

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  8. don says:

    I like the signing, He adds a SWAGGER, "I'm better than you" mentality that we haven't had since Matt Garza,..a cocky mentality and will put it in your face (or eyeblack)... just look at his photo above... dose he look like he's worried? Maybe he can elevate the Rays toughness mentality.. HE may not go much for Joe Maddons layed back coaching approach...

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  9. Joe D. says:

    One of my friends is a braves fan and daya we're going to hate this guy, no hustle, won't run stuff out as a hitter or in the field

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  10. phil says:

    Do Not Trade Hak-Ju Lee just in case!

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