2021 Stats: 98 G, 400 PA, .246/.300/.478 (103 wRC+), 14 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 2.1 bWAR with Arizona
2021 Earnings: $7.666MM (final year of a 3-year, $21MM extension signed in 2018)
2022 Status: Signed a 2-year, $20MM deal with the New York Mets
The Diamondbacks originally traded for Eduardo Escobar in July 2018 trying to make a run at the NL West division title. What was originally a rental deal ultimately turned into a 3-year stay in Arizona when Escobar signed a three year extension on the eve of free agency. He immediately awarded the Diamondbacks with a big year in 2019, putting up a .269/.320/.511 35 homerun season at the plate. That season alone paid for the $21MM extension he signed, but there were still two more years to go. A health scare in the offseason and showing up to the restart put Escobar out of baseball shape and he struggled to find his swing for much of the 2020 season. Escobar put up a putrid 55 wRC+ with the team, but that certainly also a good reflection of his actual skill level as a hitter.
Heading into the 2021 season as a contract year, Escobar showed up to camp 20 pounds lighter and more nimble, anticipating he’d have to play a lot of 2B as well as his natural 3B spot. After a slow first week, Escobar took off in the series against the Cincinnati Reds and never looked back. In fact, Escobar would lead the team in home runs (22) and RBI (65) despite the fact his last game with the team was in July. In total, Escobar’s contributions over 400 plate appearances resulted in a 103 wRC+ and a 2.1 bWAR season with the D-backs. With the team out of contention rather early, the team looked to trade off expiring deals like Escobar’s. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, for catcher prospect Cooper Hummel (on the 40-man roster) and lottery ticket infielder Alberto Ciprian.
With time to reflect on the trade, no doubt the Escobar pick up and extension was one of Mike Hazen’s best deals. Jhoan Duran is the only player the team gave up in the deal that still holds value to the Twins’ future plans while Escobar contributed 5.6 bWAR over 364 games with Arizona. While the initial deal was for a rental player, getting three more years of value out of Escobar was significant for the D-backs as he’s cashed in with the free-spending Mets. If I were to guess how Escobar would potentially do in New York, I’m just glad the D-backs didn’t just pay a soon to be 33-year-old infielder $20MM. One thing I will say is that the D-backs will certainly miss Eduardo’s cheerful personality in the clubhouse next year. At the minimum, the fans should give Escobar a nice cheer when he returns to Chase Field next season.