Washington has been seeking infield help this offseason, and according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Nationals acquired Yunel Escobar from the Athletics on Wednesday evening. Reliever Tyler Clippard will head to Oakland in the deal, which is pending a physical.
Escobar, 32, was not an Athletic for long. He was part of the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to Oakland in exchange for John Jaso and prospects. Escobar posted a .258/.324/.340 batting line in 2014 to complement seven home runs and 39 RBIs. He is expected to play second base for the Nationals, despite the fact that he has not played second since 2007. Washington is not afraid of shifting infielders, as the club added shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera before the last trading deadline and asked him to play second base, which he had not done for six seasons.
When Anthony Rendon moved to third base, the Nationals struggled to get consistent offensive production from second base before trading for Cabrera. Both Danny Espinosa and Kevin Frandsen saw time at second base before Washington chose to acquire Cabrera.
Although the Nationals were seeking a second baseman, the addition of Escobar gives the club depth at shortstop. He will earn $5 million in 2015, $7 million in 2016, and has a club option for 2017. Shortstop Ian Desmond will be a free agent next offseason, and the Nationals may not want to resign him, which would enable Escobar to return to the position he is most familiar with.
Heyman suggested Clippard may be dealt, and MLB.com's William Ladson was among the first to report the 29-year old Clippard was officially involved in the deal. Clippard has closing experience, and has established himself as one of the best setup men in baseball. In 70.1 innings in 2014, Clippard posted a 2.18 ERA and 2.75 FIP. His 1.5 WAR in 2014 was the highest of his career.
For the Athletics, the departure of Escobar could create an opportunity for Marcus Semien to win the starting shortstop job.