In their blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays earlier this week, the Marlins acquired a player who has been discussed in some circles as a potential target for the Twins: Yunel Escobar.
The 30-year-old shortstop is coming off a rather tumultuous year in Toronto, but there's no denying that he's got some legitimate talent, which has been in short supply at the shortstop position here in Minnesota.
Interestingly, the Marlins won't be using Escobar at short; instead they'll plug in young Adeiny Hechavarria, also acquired in the deal. The plan for now is to shift Escobar over to third, but Miami is reportedly open to flipping him
and his $5 million salary.
If he's available at a reasonable price, the Twins would have to at least consider. With a .282/.353/.390 career hitting line and very solid defense, he would represent a clear upgrade at a very problematic position, and he's under team control at a reasonable price through 2015. However, acquiring him also might require the Twins to go against their long-standing philosophy of focusing on character and clubhouse chemistry. I haven't met Yunel Escobar personally so I can't say with certainty that he's a bad dude, but he has a reputation as a malcontent and it didn't help that this season he was suspended
for having hateful, homophobic language painted on his face during a game.
Perhaps the Twins should welcome an opportunity to shake up their standards. By all accounts, the teams of the last two seasons have been filled with nice guys, but nevertheless the results were lousy. Maybe it's time for this front office to start focusing solely on production and on-field value, while dealing with auxiliary issues as they come up.
Does Escobar provide enough on-field value to make pursuing him worthwhile? That's a very fair question in light of his performance this year. But as Terry Ryan and Co. make their evaluations, I hope they won't rule him out simply because of attitude problems. It's time to start prioritizing the quality of the product on the field over the climate in the locker room.