Washington Nationals Rumors: Could Yunel Escobar Be Traded At Winter Meetings?

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Could one of the Washington Nationals’ biggest surprises last season be heading to a new team next week in Nashville?

As the Washington Nationals get set to head down to Nashville, Tennessee for this year’s Winter Meetings, could they look to be dealing one of their best offensive players from a year ago. Last offseason, it was a surprise to most when the Nationals acquired Yunel Escobar from the Athletics for reliever Tyler Clippard. Now, could Escobar be on the move again?

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network reported that it is expected that the organization will look to deal Escobar next week at the Winter Meetings:

In 139 games this year for the Nats, the now 33-year-old had a slash line of .314/.375/.415 with nine home runs and 56 RBI’s. Escobar finished sixth in the National League in batting average and seventh in on-base percentage. He was originally slated to play second base, but he ended up playing the entire season at third base because Anthony Rendon spent most of the season on the disabled list.

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Escobar has one more guaranteed year left on his contract worth about $7 million along with a $7 million team option for 2017 ($1 million buyout). With Rendon slated to start the 2016 season at third base, there isn’t much room for Escobar unless he moves to second base (where he hasn’t played since 2007) or shortstop, if the team elects to start Trea Turner at triple-A Syracuse instead of the big leagues.

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If the Nationals were to be the winners of the Ben Zobrist sweepstakes, you would have to think it’s a certain Escobar gets dealt because Zobrist has the versatility to play all of the infield positions. That would mean Danny Espinosa, who was a surprise this season, could be the backup to Turner or Zobrist.

At times this past season, Escobar was the second best player in the lineup, behind Bryce Harper. His WAR of 1.9 was third on the team behind Harper (9.9) and Ian Desmond (2.0). While his offense didn’t help Washington get to the postseason, his trade value is higher than anyone would have thought a year ago.

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The question would be whether they could get a reliever for Escobar or a player that helps the organization more in the long run. Whatever the case might be, this will be one of the storylines to watch from a Nationals’ perspective next week at the Winter Meetings.

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