The Los Angeles Angels have made a trade with the Washington Nationals to bring Yunel Escobar to the Angels in exchange for reliever Trevor Gott. The potential for a deal was first reported by Jon Morosi while the deal was confirmed by Jon Heyman and Mike DiGiovanna.
Escobar is a well-traveled individual. The Angels will be the sixth team in the last seven years for Escobar, eight if counting teams he never actually suited up with. He played the first three and a half seasons of his major league career with the Braves before the carousel began. The transactions for Escobar since 2010 are as follows:
- In July 2010, along with Jo-Jo Reyes, traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Tyler Pastornicky, Alex Gonzalez and Tim Collins.
- In November 2012, along with Jeff Mathis, Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony DeSclafani, and Henderson Alvarez, traded to the Miami Marlins for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio.
- Less than a month later, traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Derek Dietrich.
- In January 2015, along with Ben Zobrist, traded to the Oakland Athletics for John Jaso, Daniel Robertson, and Boog Powell.
- Less than a week later, traded to the Washington Nationals for Tyler Clippard.
- Today, traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Trevor Gott.
With David Freese a pending free agent who did not receive a qualifying offer, the Angels have an opening at third base, where Escobar played last season — although second base might also be a possibility for the former shortstop. With Andrelton Simmons in the fold, going back to shortstop, where he did not play in 2015, is not likely a viable option.
Escobar is set to make $7 million in 2016 as the second season of a two year, $13 million deal that includes a $7 million option for 2017 that can be bought out for $1 million dollars. Escobar is coming off a very good hitting season, with a line of .314/.375/.415 and a wRC+ of 120 for a solid two-win year. That hitting line was aided paritally by a .347 BABIP, roughly 40 points higher than his career numbers. Steamer expects the BABIP to come down and make Escobar a roughly league-average hitter.
The 33-year-old should be a good fit and an upgrade over the Angels’ internal options at a relatively low salary, but he also cost the Angels a hard-throwing reliever in Trevor Gott. The Angels obtained Gott in the same trade that sent Huston Street to the Angels. Kiley McDaniel rated Gott the 10th-best prospect in the Angels organization heading into the season.
Gott has been counted out at each level for being a smallish righty reliever, but now he’s knocking on the door and appears to have figured out a way to succeed. He works 93-96 and hits 97 mph with his four-seam fastball, which he locates well up in the zone, drawing awkward swings as it jumps on hitters. Gott’s 80-82 mph curveball is consistently above average, flashing plus for some, with a rarely used changeup.
Gott made his major league debut in June and pitched 47.2 innings. His fastball did not translate to strikeouts as his strikeout rate was just 13.4% against a 7.9% walk rate. His ground-ball tendencies (57% in 2015) helped keep the ball in the park, leading to a decent 3.74 FIP and a solid 3.02 ERA, although his xFIP was 4.44 — meaning, if he cannot keep the ball in the park, he is less serviceable as a reliever.
With Anthony Rendon at third, the Nationals might not have wanted to hold on to Escobar as a bench bat as his cost increased, so they found some value for him in a cost-controlled reliever who could help the team next season. The Angels add a starter to their infield. The move is relatively low impact, but one that could help both teams as they try to contend next season.
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.