Nationals expected to shop Yunel Escobar at the Winter Meetings
With the Mets seeking upgrades at second base, third base and potentially at shortstop, one avenue the Mets could explore as they seek such changes is the trade market, especially as the uninspiring options on the free agent market begin to dwindle as the winter progresses.
One name, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who is expected to become available at the Winter Meetings in Nashville next week is Nationals infielder Yunel Escobar.
But aside from the obstacles with Escobar, he doesn’t really fit what the Mets are looking for.
Yes, he’s durable and can play third base, and he came up as a shortstop and played there as late as 2014 with the Rays. The Mets need to find a legit backup to David Wright, and could certainly use improvements at both shortstop and second base.
But if the Mets are looking to upgrade their defense – which they are – Escobar does everything but that no matter what position he is at.
He was downright lousy at third base last year for Washington, although he was asked to fill in for Ryan Zimmerman and potentially played more at third base than GM Mike Rizzo originally anticipated. But he was even worse at shortstop the year prior with Tampa Bay. Both Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada were better at the position in 2015 than Escobar was at 2014.
He had a good year offensively with Washington in 2015 in posting a .790 OPS, the highest mark since he posted an .812 OPS with the Braves in 2009. But outside of 2015, Escobar has been a below average offensive player since that year with Atlanta. He does draw a lot of walks and doesn’t strike out that much, but he doesn’t hit for a lot of power and doesn’t have much speed either.
What’s more, he’s owed $7 million in 2016 and $7 million in 2017, his age-33 and 34 seasons. It’s hard to see the Mets making concessions to their budget for a player of this caliber.
And on top of that, acquiring Escobar would require an intra-division trade, something the Mets probably aren’t inclined to do for a player like this.
Of course, the Mets could limit Escobar’s exposure in a part-time role, and using him sporadically at shortstop and third base. Conceivably, he could be more valuable in that role.
But Escobar has had behavioral issues in the past, and if that’s not the role he wants, that might not sit too well with the veteran infielder.
In other words, the pros do not outweigh the cons with this player.