Less than 24 hours after their catcher was named the MVP of the All Star Game, the Atlanta Braves made a bold statement with the first substantial trade of July. Atlanta finally gave up on Yunel Escobar, sending the underwhelming shortstop to Toronto with lefty Jo-Jo Reyes in exchange for Alex Gonzalez and two prospects.
Fantasy owners should fight to get their hands on Gonzalez NOW.
In Toronto, with a modest lineup surrounding him, Gonzalez was having a season worth of all star consideration. Gonzalez, 33, is batting .259 with 17 home runs, 50 RBIs and 43 total extra-base hits for the Blue Jays. His 43 extra-base hits are tied for fifth in the AL.
He will now join a lineup with established stars Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus and last night’s hero, Brian McCann, as well as emerging superstar Jason Heyward. Gonzalez should hit in a run-producing area of the lineup (2, 6 or 7), so he should be considered good for 35-45 more RBI and an increase in home runs and doubles in the second half.
Escobar, meanwhile, goes to Toronto where he will likely be asked to be more a central figure in a lineup that lacks much depth. He could be asked to drive in runs behind Vernon Wells, but his track record indicates that he hasn’t performed well under the weight of expecations. Continue to watch Escobar from a distance.