Two teams trying to take advantage of the rough season the Los Angeles Angels are having are the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets, setting their sight on Yunel Escobar, hoping to work out a trade for the infielder.
Escobar, 33, joined the Angels during the winter after one season with the Washington Nationals. After a career at shortstop, he’s been playing mostly as a third baseman over the last two years, which is how both the Giants and the Mets would like to use him. His defense isn’t very good, but he can play a number of positions, has a solid contract which isn’t too much to take on, and his offense has been fantastic this season, reaching a whole new level of efficiency over the last two seasons.
Escobar is hitting .310 this season, with a .359 OBP and a .768 OPS. Since the beginning of the 2015 season he’s hit only 12 home runs (.413 slugging), but he’s batting a .313 over that time with a .782 OPS, including 43 doubles. His salary for 2016 is $7 million, and there’s a team option of $7 million over his 2017 portion of the contract, also coming with a $1 million buyout. Formerly with the Blue Jays, Rays, and Braves, Escobar has probably never seemed more valuable to teams, even at his age.
The Giants would like to see someone do better than Matt Duffy. Duffy is on the DL, but will be back at some point. He started the season with a disappointing .253/.313/.358 hitting line. Having both of them doesn’t hurt, but Escobar is simply more versatile than Duffy, not to mention in a better stage of his career, as the Giants are trying to keep in front of everyone in the NL West, relying more on batting this season than in their previous World Series run.
The Mets are looking at Escobar and see someone who can fill in for David Wright, who was an injury waiting to happen. The Mets are pretty deep when it comes to infield, but the Angels’ slump (which is more than just a one-season problem, but a long term issue on a team not built for some sort of rebuild) offers an opportunity to grab a very good hitter with a workable contract. Both the Mets and the Giants have the young talent to make something work. Now it’s a matter of who is more desperate to have something worked out.