Shortstop swap

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Jays get longer-term solution at SS by acquiring Escobar from Braves

The Toronto Blue Jays swapped shortstops with the Atlanta Braves, acquiring Yunel Escobar for veteran Alex Gonzalez in a five-player trade Wednesday.

The Blue Jays also get 25-year-old left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes while sending prospects Tim Collins, a lefty, and infielder Tyler Pastornicky to the Braves.

TORONTO -

The Toronto Blue Jays swapped shortstops with the Atlanta Braves, acquiring Yunel Escobar for veteran Alex Gonzalez in a five-player trade Wednesday.

The Blue Jays also get 25-year-old left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes while sending prospects Tim Collins, a lefty, and infielder Tyler Pastornicky to the Braves.

Escobar is the key piece for the Blue Jays, someone who can fill the void up the middle for a few seasons until top prospect Adeiny Hechavarria is ready.

But the 27-year-old is more than just a stop-gap.

Though he's slumped to a .238 average with 12 doubles in 75 games this season, the six-foot-two, 200-pound Cuban batted .299 with 26 doubles, 14 home runs, 76 RBI and a .377 on-base percentage in 2009. He owns a career .291 average with 87 doubles, 29 home runs and a .368 on base percentage over 446 career games with Atlanta.

Gonzalez, 33, is batting .259 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs while playing superb defence, but is well over his career norms in recent years.

He's making US$2.75 million this season and has an option worth $2.5 million next season.

Reyes has just one appearance with the Braves this season and in 12 games (10 starts) for triple-A Gwinnett, he's 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA, 15 walks and 50 strikeouts in 47 1-3 innings.

He was optioned to double-A New Hampshire.

Another intriguing name in the deal is that of Collins.

The 20-year-old is a blogosphere darling who was 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA and nine saves in 35 games for double-A New Hampshire. Signed by former GM J.P. Ricciardi - who had heard about the summer local league pitcher from his friends in Worcester, Mass. - he has torn his way through the minors but at just five foot seven and 155 pounds, will always face doubts about his size.

Pastornicky, 20, was batting .258 with 16 doubles, 35 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 77 games for single-A Dunedin. He was a fifth-round pick in 2008.

Organizations: Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays

Geographic location: TORONTO, Atlanta, Worcester, Mass.

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