The Miami Marlins had two shortstops, both strong defensively, but no natural third baseman to start at the hot corner. They were entertaining offers for one of those shortstops, Yunel Escobar.
It sounds like a natural fit, but as headlines showed this past season, it's more complicated than that with Escobar. In any case, there was not a fit for the Tigers, who weren't among the teams talking with the Marlins on Escobar. According to multiple sources, the Tigers weren't interested.
On the field, Escobar has a strong case in what is considered a weak market for shortstops. The 30-year-old Cuban native has had a higher Wins Above Replacement total than top free agent Stephen Drew in five of his six Major League seasons, including each of the last two. His lowest game total in a season over the last five years is 133 in 2011.
Escobar is coming off his weakest offensive season in 2012, batting just .253 for the Blue Jays with nine home runs, 51 RBIs and a career-low .644 OPS. In general, though, he has been relatively consistent offensively with limited expectations.
He's under contract for $5 million next year, and he has a pair of $5 million club options after that.
It's off the field where Escobar's situation becomes complicated. He was suspended by the Blue Jays late this past season for a homophobic slur written onto his eye black, a move that has put a significant blemish on his reputation.
Toronto dealt Escobar to Miami in last month's megadeal that sent Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and others to the Jays. Almost immediately upon arrival as a Marlin, speculation arose as to where Miami could send him.
They found a partner in the Rays late Tuesday night, sending Escobar to their in-state rivals in exchange for Minor League infielder Derek Dietrich.The Tigers, coincidentally, just parted ways with a player whose off-field issues made headlines in Delmon Young.