Yunel Escobar thinks he was misunderstood in Atlanta

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Upon joining the Blue Jays in Baltimore on Friday, Yunel Escobar told reporters — well, through an translator, Blue Jays bench coach Nick Leyva, anyway — that he felt he was unfairly criticized during his time in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.

“There was a problem [in Atlanta],” Escobar said. “I feel bad that I was
getting a label I don’t think I deserved. It was inappropriate because
I’m not the type of person and not the type of player that people were
putting the label on me as being.”

The criticism has reached new heights since the trade, with ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeting on Thursday that Alex Gonzalez was greeted with a standing ovation when he walked into the Braves’ clubhouse.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, Escobar has earned the reputation as a player who dogs it on occasion. I can’t claim that I have watched the Braves as much as Craig does, but his nonchalant style was pretty obvious in last weekend’s series against the Mets. Perhaps it was the last straw for Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Let’s hope Escobar uses this trade as a motivation to be the player we all expected him to be. Beating out a bunt single in his first at-bat with the Blue Jays is a pretty good way to begin rehabbing his image.

Report: Pirates sign Felipe Rivero to four-year contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.

Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.

Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.

Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”