Let’s hope nobody in Oakland bought an Escobar jersey.
The Nationals have been searching for a second baseman the whole offseason, as in-house options like Danny Espinosa have looked lackluster and their solution from the 2014 season, Asdrubal Cabrera, had already departed. Escobar had recently been sent to Oakland from the Tampa Bay Rays in the deal for Ben Zobrist. Escobar has only played 21 career games at second-base, but the transition is relatively easy. The 32 year-old Cuban has been in the majors since 2007, starting his career with the Atlanta Braves, and then moving to the Toronto Blue Jays before signing a deal with the Rays.
Last season, Escobar hit .258/.324/.340 (92 OPS+) for the Rays with 7 home runs and 39 RBI over 529 plate appearances. He’ll presumably slide right into the second base slot and provide a long-term safety net if/when SS Ian Desmond leaves, as he’s under contract until 2017.
There are some clubhouse concerns, such as Escobar’s tendency to be a clubhouse cancer and has written homophobic slurs on his eye black before. He has also significantly underperformed in the past few years.
Over his 8-year career, Escobar is a career .276/.347/.381 (98 OPS+) hitter with 69 home runs and 393 RBI.
The team that looks to have gotten the better end of the deal is the Oakland Athletics. In Tyler Clippard, they get a proven setup man with a career 2.88 ERA. Clippard has set up since 2011, and also notched 32 saves in 2012 due to injuries in the closing spot.
Last season, Clippard enjoyed a 2.18 ERA over 70 innings pitched with 82 strikeouts.
He is, in fact, the polar opposite of Escobar in terms of clubhouse compatibility and consistency. In the past three seasons, he has averaged 22.75 runs given up and 46.75 runs given up per season over 302 innings. Clippard also fools batters with his three pitches, a four-seam fastball averaging about 93 MPH and a change-up (81 MPH) as well as an occasional splitter and curve.
It’s assumed he’ll set up for Sean Doolittle but can fill in in a closing role. Over his 8-year career, Clippard has a 2.88 ERA over 491 innings pitched with 548 strikeouts.