The Washington Nationals parted ways with one of their best 2015 players today, as the team traded infielder Yunel Escobar to the Angels.
The Washington Nationals have made plenty of headlines over the last week for several deals that came close to fruition but ultimately fell through. Thursday afternoon, however, the team was finally able to seal the deal on a significant trade.
Escobar was one of the team’s best players last season, hitting .314 with nine home runs and six RBIs. He spent most of the season at third base, taking the place of the oft-injured Anthony Rendon.
While there weren’t many rumors of an Escobar deal being on the horizon in the days leading up to the trade, it’s not surprising that the team decided to part ways with the veteran infielder.
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The Nationals already have a crowded infield with Rendon, Trea Turner and Danny Espinosa. Turner is likely to take over the everyday shortstop duties in 2016, and with Rendon set to return to third base and Espinosa’s undoubtedly superior defense at second, there wasn’t really a clear spot to put Escobar.
Of course, it hurts to lose Escobar’s production. Apart from NL MVP Bryce Harper, Escobar was arguably the team’s best hitter in 2015 and helped lead the offense all season long. But 2015 was a career year for Escobar, and with the team boasting plenty of middle infield depth, selling high on the veteran infielder was probably the best way to go.
The Nationals were also able to strengthen their bullpen with the trade, adding a powerful young arm in Gott. The 22-year-old reliever posted a 3.02 ERA over 47 2/3 innings innings of work in his rookie 2015 campaign. Gott should continue to improve as he gains more major league experience, and most importantly, he is under team control until 2022.
The Nationals went into the offseason with one big goal in mind: a complete overhaul of the bullpen. While they still have a ways to go to accomplish that goal, the acquisition of Gott definitely improves one of the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2015.
While it hurts to lose Escobar, the Nationals’ infield situation just became far less complicated and the team showed that it has faith in Turner to take over for Ian Desmond, who is a free agent this offseason.
The Nationals will likely need to make more moves this offseason to fix the problems that led to their downfall in 2015, but Thursday’s trade was undoubtedly a step in the right direction..