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Shortstop Escobar on the block?

Shortstop Escobar on the block?

ATLANTA -- While the non-waiver Trade Deadline is over a month away, Major League clubs are already evaluating who might be available to strengthen their needs. One American League scout said Friday that his organization had gained the sense that the Braves might be willing to part ways with Yunel Escobar before the July 31 deadline.

There's no doubt that Escobar's flamboyant approach to the game has continued to infuriate some members of the Braves organization. But it still appears the talented 26-year-old shortstop will remain in Atlanta unless another club offers an extremely attractive package.

In other words, the Braves aren't entering July with a feeling that they have to trade Escobar. In fact, many members of upper management still regard him as one of the game's top shortstops, despite the fact that his offensive production has declined this year.

While Escobar has maddened some of the Braves with the flashy way he turns double plays or dramatically reacts to an umpire's call, he still has proven capable of preventing runs on a nightly basis with his tremendous defensive skills.

Escobar entered Friday night's series opener against the Tigers hitting .250 with no homers and a .651 OPS, which ranked as the ninth-worst mark among all qualified National League players. Entering this season, Escobar's career numbers included a .301 batting average and .801 OPS.

Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said he isn't overly concerned about the fact that Escobar's extra-base hits have consisted of 10 doubles this year. Pendleton believes the Cuban shortstop is still attempting to gain a feel for the mechanical adjustments he had to make after hitting just .175 through the first 32 games he played this season.

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