This afternoon the Atlanta Braves traded shortstop Yunel Escobar and minor league lefty Jo-Jo Reyes to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Alex Gonzalez and prospects Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky. Shortly thereafter my Twitter feed erupted with instant-analysis of the deal, with most sabermetric-friendly folks calling it a steal for the Toronto.
Just focusing on the main parts, the Blue Jays acquire a 27 year old shortstop who is under team control through 2013 and has a current ZiPS-projected wOBA of .335. The Braves receive a 33 year old shortstop who is a free agent next season and has a current ZiPS-projected wOBA of .308. Arguably, Escobar is not only a better player right now than Gonzalez, but he’ll be better in the future and he’ll make less than his free agent value for three more seasons (as he is arbitration-eligible).
However, there is some contrary opinion regarding the deal. The issue really centers around inside information. Stuff that we, as outsiders, don’t know, but the Braves (and Blue Jays) have access to. Perhaps Escobar’s clubhouse issues were so bad that removing him from the team will actually help the Braves, and make up for the gap between Gonzalez’s and Escobar’s projected future value. Or maybe the Braves know that Escobar’s offensive struggles are real and that he simply won’t perform at anywhere near the level he reached in his first three seasons.
My question, then, is can we ever fully evaluate a trade or player acquisition, from the outside looking in, since we do not have complete (or anywhere near complete) information?