The opening move of the 2018-19 offseason has been made before first pitch of the World Series. Third baseman Eduardo Escobar is officially returning to The Grand Canyon State. The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced the 29-year-old will be staying in Phoenix at $21-million over the next three years.
The Venezuelan infielder was acquired by the Diamondbacks from the Minnesota Twins at the non-waiver trade deadline last July. Between the two squads, Escobar slashed .272/.334/.489 with 23 home runs and 84 runs-batted-in, while earning a 3.2 WAR. Escobar owns a good bat that can be a real weapon in the heart of this Diamondback lineup.
Defensively, Escobar plays three different infield positions, second, short, and third. In his career, Escobar is a below-average defender, according to the trustworthy defensive runs saved (DRS) metric. His DRS at second is -2, at third is -4, and at short is an abysmal -16. Despite the advanced metrics going against him, Escobar is still a valuable piece, specifically in the National League, with him being able to play a plethora of positions.
The deal may come as a surprise to many Arizona fans and people around baseball, with reports coming over the past few weeks that the D-Backs are going to be sellers in the offseason. Signing Escobar, who will be thirty on Opening Day, is not a move from a rebuilding team. It will be interesting to see if Escobar is in Phoenix for the entirety of his deal, or if the D-Backs are really just doing their due diligence.
Escobar was arguably the best third baseman set to be on the market, and his low money deal coming after a career year may hurt other, older infielders like Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie. In addition, with Escobar off the market, third base needy squads will have to look towards older options like Donaldson or Lowrie, or convince superstar Manny Machado to return to his original position. The other scenario for these squads, is finding a way to stop future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre from retiring, not an easy feat.
The first domino of a star-studded 2019 free agent class has fallen. With the baseball world gearing up for one of the craziest off-seasons of all time, who will be the next big name to sign on the dotted line?
Featured Photo: John Minchillo/AP