Trade Retrospective: How Did the Twins Do in the Eduardo Escobar Trade?
Image courtesy of Daniel Venn, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (photo of Jhoan Duran)Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal.
What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade?
Arizona’s manager Torey Lovullo said, “We’re really excited about Eduardo Escobar. He’s got a tremendous track record in this game, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great player. He’ll fit right in.”
At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Escobar trade and the Ryan Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.”
Baseball America was very high on Duran at the time of the deal as he was the 10th ranked prospect in the Diamondback organization. They wrote, “He's coveted for his size, projectability and arm strength. His four-seam fastball reaches into the upper 90s and has peaked at 98 mph this season, and he's also shown a two-seam fastball in the low 90s that has flashed plus at low Class A Kane County. He has feel to spin his curveball, but the pitch still needs further refinement to keep hitters from picking it up early. His changeup is well below-average.”
The other two players acquire along with Duran were Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad. Baseball America said, “Maciel is a touch undersized but has shown the ability to spray the ball around the park. Even so, scouts see well below-average power with plus speed. He plays an average center field right now, but with his speed has a chance to develop into an above-average defender.”
Regarding De La Trinidad, Baseball America said, “De La Trinidad has plenty of power for a player listed at just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. His eight home runs are second on Kane County, behind only Jazz Chisholm… He plays hard and gets the most out of his ability, but there is no single carrying tool on his card and he does not project as a big league regular.”
Escobar’s Arizona Time
The Diamondbacks were trading for only a partial season of Escobar even though they did go on to resign him. In those 54 games in 2018, he hit .268/.320/.444 with eight home runs and 11 doubles. At the time of the trade the Diamondbacks were trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1.5 games in the NL West and they were a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race. Things didn’t go well down the stretch as Arizona ended the season with an 82-80 record which was 9.5 games back in the division.
Escobar resigned with the Diamondbacks for three years and $21 million, so he has one more year remaining on that current contract. In 2019, he hit .269/.320/.511 with 35 home runs, 29 doubles, and a league leading 10 triples. The 2020 seasons didn’t go as well for him as his OPS dropped by over 200 points.
Minnesota’s Trade Return
Back in 2019, Duran was able to reach Double-A as a 21-year-old and the Twins added him to the 40-man roster following the season. His fastball is his key to getting to the big leagues as he can hit triple-digits on the radar gun. His best secondary pitch, a splitter/sinker hybrid pitch, is one that Baseball America has written multiple articles about. This pitch typically sits in the 88-94 mph range and he adds in a curveball that continues to improve.
Maciel split the 2019 season between Low- and High-A where he hit .283/.366/.366 with 18 extra-base hits and a 61 to 44 strikeout to walk ratio. Also, he played all three outfield positions. De La Trinidad split the 2019 season between High- and Double-A where he hit .228/.309/.320 with 15 extra base hits and a 68 to 31 strikeout to walk ratio.
Without any minor league games, it’s hard to know what kind of improvements any of these players made in 2020. Duran got to work the entire year at the team’s alternate site and the Twins continue to be very high on his potential.
Who Won the Trade?
Any value the Twins could get for Escobar is positive since he was essential a rental player. Minnesota has a deep farm system and Duran is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At best, he should fit into the Twins rotation for the better part of the next decade. If he can’t make it as a starter, his pitch combination could make him a lethal bullpen option. Maciel and De La Trinidad have an outside shot at making the big leagues, but the Twins clearly won with their acquisition of Duran.
Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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