With Machado Gone, Eduardo Escobar Becomes The Best Shortstop Available
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsFortunately for the Twins, the next best available shortstop on the trade market now appears to be Eduardo Escobar. Now, I know Escobar has spent the majority of his time this year at third base, and he is a much better defender at the hot corner, but Escobar still has the ability to play short and the presence he can bring with his bat there will be a welcome upgrade for a number of teams.
There are a few big things going in Escobar’s favor that make him an attractive player for contending teams. This first is his excellent play on the field ever since he took over as a full-time player nearly a year ago. Going back to August 20th of last year (the day Escobar took over full time after the Miguel Sano injury), Escobar has a .266/.319/.513 slash line with 24 home runs and 40 doubles in 130 games.
Another factor in the favor of Escobar’s trade value is his position versatility. If it is needed, Escobar could play second, short or third, which opens the door to a lot more teams being able to benefit from adding Escobar to their roster.
The next factor is at the trade deadline, Escobar will only have a little more than $1.5 million left on his contract. So, Escobar won’t be a problem for teams that are hesitant to add much more in terms of payroll. Finally, Escobar’s clubhouse presence can’t be overstated. While it’s hard to put a number on this, teams will appreciate knowing that Escobar won’t hurt the team’s camaraderie as they make a push for the postseason.
After Escobar, the list of other shortstops available isn’t very long. Perhaps the next most intriguing player is Jose Iglesias. Unlike Escobar, Iglesias is known for his defensive prowess at short. However, his bat has never been all that good, so most of his value is wrapped up in his glove. For teams looking to add another impact bat to their lineup, which is usually the case at the trade deadline, Iglesias can’t provide that.
Another player of interest might be Elvis Andrus. Andrus has been one of the better shortstops in the game in recent years, but he has been struggling with injuries this year and as a result has played in just 36 games. One factor that could prevent Andrus from being traded is his contract situation. After 2018, Andrus is under control for another 4-years for $59 million, with an option for a fifth year. With Andrus still just 29, and the quality of player he is, that is a pretty team friendly deal.
While this would normally increase Andrus's trade value, there is one stipulation that prevents this, and that is two player options after 2018 and 2019 that only kick in if Andrus is traded. So, if a team were to acquire Andrus via trade, the leverage instantly switches to him and he could easily opt out for free agency.
A few other shortstops that could be available include Adeiny Hechavarria, Freddy Galvis & Alcides Escobar who are all essentially just a lesser version of the same player Jose Iglesias is. As you can see, the market for available shortstops is pretty bleak beyond Eduardo Escobar.
So, the question is, which teams will be most interested in striking a deal with the Twins for Eduardo Escobar? Well, the two most obvious teams of interest are the Philadelphia Phiilles and Milwaukee Brewers. Both teams were players in the Manny Machado sweepstakes until the very end, and they are both looking to fill a pretty glaring hole at shortstop as the Phillies and Brewers rank 24th and 30th respectively in fWAR from the shortstop position. The Phillies could also use the help at third base as they rank 27th as a team with a 0.4 fWAR from their third basemen this year.
Another team that might show some interest in Escobar is the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks aren’t necessarily bad at short or third, but they are not all that good at those positions either. With Jake Lamb in a down year, and Nick Ahmed struggling offensively, Escobar’s bat and versatility could be a welcome addition to the Arizona infield. There are most likely a few other teams that will be interested in Escobar as well, but the Phillies, Brewers and Diamondbacks are the three teams that have the most to gain by adding Escobar to their lineup.
At the end of the day, the fact that Eduardo Escobar will become a free agent at the end of this season will still limit his trade value, but if I was a team that could use an upgrade in the infield I would be on the phone with the Twins every day trying to make a deal to acquire Eduardo Escobar.
- Cory Engelhardt, Dman, hybridbear and 3 others like this