We all know the how. The Rays acquired Yunel Escobar from the Marlins in exchange for prospect Derek Dietrich a few days after the winter meetings this past December. Escobar is coming off his worst season, one where he saw his OBP dip to a paltry .300. Escobar turned 30 this past fall and will play the 2013 season at that age. He’s also signed for ’13 at $5 million dollars and has two club options for ’14 and ’15 also at just $5 million each. This really puts the Rays in the driver’s seat.
Ok so why am I so excited about this acquisition having given up Dietrich who in my eyes at least was my favorite Rays prospect? Several reasons are my answer. First off a team needs to be strong up the middle and shortstop is arguably the most important of all defensive positions. Everyone the Rays tried there the last two seasons have either failed with the glove or at the plate or in some cases, both. Escobar can flash the leather as his UZR150 has landed him in in the top 5 in his two full seasons in the AL.
Next his past history, career .282/.353/.390 743 OPS slash numbers. Who wouldn’t sign up for that this season?
Finally, something I’ll call the Joe factor. Joe Maddon has the ability to draw out the positives, minimize the negatives and eliminate the noise from the player.
All in all it’s not a glamorous type deal but come October we may lookback and say wow, this was the key to a great Rays season