Infielder Eduardo Escobar and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $21 million, according to a report from the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro. Escobar, 29, spent time at third base, shortstop, and second base last season.
You may remember Escobar from his days with the Minnesota Twins. The Venezuelan spent time with both the Twins and Chicago White Sox, and is a career .257/.308/.417 with 71 home runs in 770 games. He made the most of his contract season, hitting .272/.334/.489 with 23 home runs in 631 plate appearances for the Twins and Diamondbacks in 2018. The Twins traded him to Arizona in July for a trio of low-level prospects.
While this is nice money for Escobar, it’s an unfortunate move for the Detroit Tigers, in my opinion. I would really like to see the Tigers target a versatile player like Escobar or Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez this offseason, one that will allow the Tigers to experiment with Niko Goodrum and Dawel Lugo at second base while still upgrading the team as a whole. Escobar is a bit more limited defensively than Gonzalez — he only plays in the infield and is a below-average defender at short — but would still be a big upgrade over most of Detroit’s hitters on a daily basis.
A player like Gonzalez or Escobar would also give the Tigers insurance for Jeimer Candelario, who dealt with a chronic wrist injury for most of 2018. The Tigers will still give Candelario every chance in the world to hold down his job at third base next year, but giving him the occasional day off — or day as the team’s designated hitter — would be more feasible with someone like Gonzalez or Escobar in the fold.
As you might expect, I like this move for Arizona too. They dealt with injuries throughout their lineup last year, including third baseman Jake Lamb (who played in just 56 games) and right fielder Steven Souza (72 games). Escobar didn’t play any outfield for the D’Backs, but he is an upgrade over free-agent-to-be Daniel Descalso, and could push utility man Chris Owings into more of a full-time outfield role.