Last week I was asked whether or not Yunel Escobar should start for the American League in the All-Star Game. Escobar has been a key member of the Blue Jays line-up both offensively and defensively. Escobar’s numbers are near the top of the leader board for AL shortstops though they are below the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexi Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, and similar to J.J. Hardy and Elvis Andrus. So the simple answer to the question is no.
But the fact that Escobar is even being considered shows his value to the Blue Jays.
Escobar will be a Blue Jay for the foreseeable future. Toronto can keep him around through the 2015 season for a very reasonable five million a year. Considering how difficult it can be to find a reliable shortstop, this could be a huge bargain for the Jays. He’s proven that his brief struggles with the Braves were a fluke and that as Major League shortstops go; he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Signings like these are crucial for Toronto’s long-term success. This year will not be the year that the Jays go to the playoffs. There are just too many holes in the lineup. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be plenty of bright spots. Adam Lind is having an incredible bounce back year, Jose Bautista will likely be a starter for the All-Star Game, and J.P. Arencibia is having a great rookie year. Sooner rather than later we will see what Brett Lawrie is capable of at third base.
These players will likely be the foundation for a run at the playoffs. General Manager Alex Anthopolous has said that he will spend money when the time is right. While we all want Rogers to start writing checks, past failures have shown how unreliable that can be. But the huge contracts of A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and Alex Rios have shown that Toronto will spend money. But all successful playoff teams have had a mix of homegrown talent and established veterans. There’s no point in spending a huge chunk of cash without a stable farm system. Anthropolous is making sure that Toronto’s core comes from within the organization since we all know how unreliable big contracts can be.
I’m not saying that Yunel Escobar will hit a walk off home run in Game 7 of the World Series. But shortstop is one less position that the Blue Jays have to worry about. He’s a solid player that will likely help Toronto get to where it hasn’t been in far too long.