The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Monday that the team has agreed to a three-year extension with third baseman Eduardo Escobar.
Eduardo Escobar was acquired in July from the Minnesota Twins in a deal that sent over minor league pitcher Jhoan Duran and outfielders Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel. As fans might remember it occurred shortly after Jake Lamb had gotten injured and the team was still in the thick of the playoff race. At the time he was acquired, Escobar was leading the majors in doubles and looked like a piece that could push them over the top.
As you know, things fell apart in the final month but the front office is already preparing for next season. Their first order of business was to lock Escobar down with a three-year, $21 million deal.
With a $7 million per year average salary, Escobar is in the middle of the road among MLB third baseman, according to Spotrac. To give you an idea of the range for veterans at the position, Josh Donaldson‘s average salary is over $20 million, Kris Bryant‘s is a shade over $10 million, and Tim Beckham‘s is around $3 million.
At first look it it appears to be a good deal. Escobar finished the season batting .272 with career-highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (84). It was easily his best season as a big leaguer and from an analytics standpoint, his 3.2 WAR probably played into their swift offer.
Escobar should be a productive player again next year which is even more important considering the uncertainty about the roster. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that they’ll “listen to offers on their best players, including Paul Goldschmidt.”
Conventional thinking suggests that with Escobar getting extended means 2017 All-Star Jake Lamb may be the odd man out. After all, Lamb followed his excellent 2017 season with a shaky 2018 before eventually getting hurt. Although injuries likely played a big part in Lamb’s decline, his numbers weren’t good in the 56 games he was around for. In total, Lamb finished this past season batting .222 with 6 home runs and 31 RBIs.
However, if the team does end up letting go of Goldschmidt, it may make sense to keep Lamb and possibly move him over to first base. He’s capable in the field and deserves more of an ‘incomplete’ for his 2018 production. We can’t forget he hit 30 home runs and drove in 105 runs just two seasons ago.
Keeping with Lamb, his biggest issue stems from the fact that he has trouble hitting left-handed pitchers. He finished 2018 batting .170 against southpaws and even worse in 2017 when he hit .144. Goldschmidt, on the other hand, hits everyone hard but is more costly in the salary department.
Keeping productive players like Escobar on good deals shows good signs for the team moving forward. After last year’s disappointment left most fans exhausted it’s good to know the franchise still wants to compete and isn’t thinking about a major rebuild.