Yunel Escobar's Bad Attitude: How Much Does It Cost?

I won't do a full analysis  of the trade had Atlanta send Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes to the Blue Jays in return for Alex Gonzalez and prospects Tim Collins and Tyler Pastronicky, but needless to say I'm not thrilled with the deal form the Braves' perspective. One of the purported reasons for the seemingly light return is that Escobar apparently has attitude and effort issues that rubbed people the wrong way in Atlanta. That's the piece I want to look at, though it requires going through a bit of other work.

I'm assuming that neither team is run by idiots, but also that their knowledge isn't extraordinarily better than ours. Some people mentioned that we can't just judge the trade a loss for the Braves, because we don't know what they know. Quick responses to that are: (1) of course we can't, (2) that doesn't mean that their extra knowledge adds value (knowing Escobar's favorite pizza topping probably isn't going to swing his OPS more than, say, 50 points), (3) one of the things they can know that we can't which would help regards Yunel's intangibles, but that cat's already out of the bag, and (4) it's no fun to write blog posts where all you do is circle the Not Enough Information option. I'll try to weight everything towards the Braves favor just in case though.

A brief projected production vs. salary break-down (ie, surplus value):

The Braves are giving up:

The updated CHONE projections have Escobar as about a 3.9 WAR player over 600 PA. Let's knock that down to an even 3, which is worse than he did either of the past two years, and start a 0.5 Win decline after next season. He's still under team control for his three arbitration years, and he's making the league minimum this year. If the going rate is $4 M per Win, the rate of inflation for salaries is 7% a year, and the arbitration rates are 40-60-80% of free agent value, then Yunel comes in at about $39.5 M in production value while getting paid $20 M. That's a surplus value of $19.5 M.

We'll assume Reyes doesn't produce anything for simplicities sake.

The Blue Jays are giving up:

Updated CHONE for Gonzalez is 1 WAR per 600 PA. Let's make it 2*, and not even do any aging for next year (assuming his club option is picked up). So he's producing $12.2 M in value while being paid $3.7 M, for a surplus of $8.4 M.

* Worse than Escobar, it should be noted. If the Braves made the move because they wanted an upgrade this year, well, I don't get it. That's why I didn't add anything in for a possible improvement in Atlanta's playoff chances.

I don't know a ton about the minor leaguers involved, but I don't think it would be a stretch to call them both C+ prospects. That's adding maybe $4 M in expected surplus value, based on the research by Victor Wang and the update from Colin here just a couple days ago.

So that's a total of (rounding up) $13 M going the other way.

Subtracting the $19.5 M from the Braves and adding $13 M leaves a net deficit of $6.5 M. Now obviously that might be because my work doesn't match that done by the Braves' front-office - they know Yunel won't break out of his slump, or they think the prospects are actually really, really good. Or they could just place that much value on getting rid of whatever headaches Escobar was giving them, which seems like quite a bit to me. Can removing Yunel's influence really make a full 1-2 win difference to the team? I'd say no, but I don't have a column in my spreadsheet for that.

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