Marlins deal newly acquired Escobar to Rays
Trade saves Miami Escobar's $5 million salary
Yunel Escobar's stint with the Miami Marlins is over before it began.
Weeks after he was acquired by Miami in a trade that sent five high-priced players to the Toronto Blue Jays, Escobar was traded again Tuesday night. He went to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league middle infielder Derek Dietrich.
The trade saves the cost-conscious Marlins $5 million (Escobar's 2013 salary). However, it's possible Escobar's exit also was hastened by the same desire to prevent controversy among the local Hispanic community that contributed to the firing of manager Ozzie Guillen after the season.
Escobar was suspended for three games late last season after he wrote a homophobic spur in Spanish on his eye-black strips. Guillen became a polarizing figure in Miami after he made comments that praised Fidel Castro.
"We did a lot of homework on Yunel and believe he's going to fit in really well in our clubhouse," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "It's a calculated risk we feel will work out well."
Escobar figures to take over at shortstop in Tampa Bay. Rays veteran Ben Zobrist, previously a second baseman and right fielder, played shortstop for much of last season.
Escobar, 30, played the past 2 1/2 seasons in Toronto after opening his career with 3 1/2 seasons as a member of the Atlanta Braves. This year, he hit .253 with a .300 on-base percentage, nine homers and 51 RBI in 145 games. Over his career, Escobar is a .282 hitter with a .353 on-base percentage, 53 homers and 298 RBI in 784 games.
Beyond 2013, Escobar's contract includes club options for 2014 and 2015, both at $5 million.
"We feel he really helps solidify our infield defense, which will be a real strength next year," Friedman said, according to the Times.
Dietrich, 23, split last season between high Class A Charlotte (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Double-A Montgomery (Ala.). He hit a combined .279 with a .338 on-base percentage, a .457 slugging percentage, 14 homers and 75 RBI while playing 75 games at shortstop and 51 at second base. He was a second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Georgia Tech.