The Milwaukee Brewers have been connected to both Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar of the Minnesota Twins lately. But which one is the better fit with the Crew?
Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Milwaukee Brewers will target Brian Dozier among other players and pitching upgrades are expected as well. Whether Rosenthal heard the Brewers’ interest was highest in Dozier or Dozier’s name was the only one he could confirm, we may never know, but naming Dozier over Escobar is interesting.
When we heard a little over a week ago that the Crew had interest in both the Twins infielders, it wasn’t clear which player was coveted more by GM David Stearns.
Rosenthal’s report seems to point to Dozier being the more sought after target, but should he be? Where would these players fit in Milwaukee and which one is the better player right now?
For a few years, Dozier was one of the best power hitting middle infielders in baseball. He hit 42 homers in 2016 and 34 last season. So far, the 31 year old Dozier has 16 home runs this year but has a .230/314/.423 slash line. Dozier would add pop to the lineup, but he wouldn’t improve the batting average. Then again, he is known for hitting much better in the second half.
Also, Dozier is a second baseman only. He doesn’t play any other position. David Stearns and Craig Counsell value versatility and Dozier does not provide that.
But Dozier will provide sound defense, something the Milwaukee Brewers have lacked at second base for quite some time. Last season, he won the Gold Glove at second base for the AL.
At the end of the season, Dozier will become a free agent, making him a pure rental, but a much cheaper one to acquire because of his poor batting average this year.
Escobar is also a pure rental, becoming a free agent for the first time after the season. But he’s been playing better in the final year of his contract. He’s hitting .271/.327/.507 with 14 homers and a league leading 35 doubles.
While he doesn’t walk much, Escobar could add some much needed punch to the lower half of the lineup. Another plus, he’s extremely versatile, unlike Dozier. Escobar can play anywhere in the infield or outfield and has even caught and pitched. He’s like a rich man’s Hernan Perez, since he’s a much better hitter.
Escobar has primarily been the third baseman for the Twins this year but he’s also been playing a lot of shortstop, and that would be where he would likely fit with the Brewers. Travis Shaw has third base locked down, so shortstop is the better spot for Escobar.
Which option makes the most sense?
Since both players are rentals, it’s even when it comes to team control. Escobar has the leg up on Dozier in terms of versatility and production this year. So he would make the most sense from the way this 25 man roster is currently constructed.
But the Brewers’ long term shortstop, Orlando Arcia, may still factor into these plans. In 16 games at Triple-A, his average is now up to .322 and has had three hit games each of the past two nights. If his bat continues to improve, he could be called up into regular shortstop duty in the majors once again. That moves the middle infield need to second base.
In that case, Dozier would make the most sense to acquire, since there’s a complete lack of a long term second baseman on this 40 man roster. Keston Hiura is penciled into that long term spot for now but he’s still in Double-A.
The Milwaukee Brewers could still try to sign whichever one of these two they get, if any, to a long term deal after the season. Signing Dozier would make Hiura expendable, but he’ll turn 32 next season. Escobar won’t turn 30 until January. If either one were to stay past this season, their long term home in Milwaukee would likely be second base.
David Stearns has two really good options in Dozier and Escobar, but Escobar has been the better performing player this season and is provides flexibility with the defensive alignments. That makes him the more logical acquisition.
With the Trade Deadline coming up quickly, Stearns has to act fast to get the guys he wants on the market before other teams acquire them.