It took Andrew Friedman three tries to acquire Luke Scott, and about as many to add Yunel Escobar if his comments during the Rays’ spring-opening press conference are true.
The Rays were interested in landing Escobar well before finalizing the December 4 trade. In fact, Friedman made inquiries about Escobar before the shortstop changed teams for the first time during the winter, in the November 19 blockbuster between the Marlins and Blue Jays. “Going back, we actually spent some time talking to Toronto about Escobar,” Friedman said in quotes distributed by the team. “Immediately when [Escobar was traded to the Marlins], we reached out to Miami and said, ‘Not sure what your plans are, but just know we’re interested.’”
Three weeks later the Rays consummated their trade with the Marlins, albeit surprisingly. “Things materialized in a way that we didn’t think it was going to be possible, and we got to the Winter Meetings and the Marlins reached back out and it happened pretty quickly.” But in order to add Escobar the Rays gave up something of value: 2010 second-round pick Derek Dietrich. The move was uncharacteristic as the Rays seldom trade prospects closing in on the majors, yet they made an exception for Escobar. “We were prepared to be aggressive in terms of trying to acquire him,” Friedman said, “and we were fortunate to be able to do so.”
While Friedman’s talks with the Jays were previously unknown (though not unexpected), a league source confirmed the Rays made another attempt at acquiring Escobar in 2010; this one coming prior to the July trade that sent Escobar to Toronto via the Braves. Nearly two and a half years later Friedman netted what was quickly becoming another of his White Whales.