Eduardo Escobar was by far the best trade deadline pick-up by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The team hit a bit of bad luck with both relievers John Curtiss and Daniel Norris, but the Brewers have been getting hit with the injury bug all season. Escobar himself was on the 10 Day-injured list from August 24th until September 3rd after acquiring him on July 30th.
Milwaukee hasn’t had a consistent third or first baseman for quite some time. They did have Mike Moustakas for a season and a half, but lost him in free agency to the Cincinnati Reds. Escobar could be the third baseman the Brewers have been waiting for. Luis Urias could still be the team’s long term solution at the corner, but his role as a super utility infielder has been working out great.
Escobar is a career .257 hitter, and has almost 1,000 hits and 150 home runs under his belt. Since joining the Brewers, Eduardo is hitting .295 with 28 hits, five doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs. Over 25 games, he also has nine walks. The Crew haven’t been very lucky the past few years keeping their higher-named free agents. But re-signing Escobar could reverse that trend and solve the team’s third base spot for the next few seasons.
It won’t be easy, but here are three reasons why the Brewers will be able to re-sign Eduardo Escobar.
1. The Brewers Will Keep Winning
With the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs in rebuilding mode, the Brewers’ main competition for the next few years in the NL Central will be the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals.
A lot of the Cardinals salary could still be tied up in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. They also just re-signed catcher Yadier Molina to another year for $10MM. There is also a rumor that they will be going after Albert Pujols in the offseason and re-unite the franchise legends for one final season. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for more big-name signings.
The Reds have shown they can compete the last few seasons, but it might not last. It’s been rumored that Nick Castellanos will opt out of his contract after this season and become a free agent again. They have Jesse Winker, Jonathan India and Sonny Gray for the next few seasons, but don’t have the current depth of talent as the Brewers do.
If Escobar wants to stay with a playoff contender after playing for the Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks for most of his career, the Brewers would be an easy team to stay with. Also, with many of their best players with years of control left or under contract, Milwaukee should be a competitive team for the next three to five years at least.
2. Competitive Third Base Market
Escobar won’t be the only bigger named third baseman on the market this offseason. Nolan Arenado technically has a giant contract remaining with the Cardinals. He does also have an opt-out option for next season and a no-trade clause. It’s highly doubtful he will decide to opt out, but there is still a chance. That means there would be another huge name player on the market.
Besides Arenado, a lot of teams will be competing to get Kris Bryant. Would it be great if Milwaukee got him? Sure. But it’s doubtful the Brewers have another Yelich-type of contract available to give out. So while teams go after Bryant, the Brewers can focus on bringing back Escobar.
Other third baseman available will be players like Maikel Franco, Josh Harrison, Jake Lamb, and Matt Carpenter.
Two other big names also have club options, Jose Ramirez and Kyle Seager. The Cleveland Indians would be fools not to bring back Ramirez, while Seager is likely to have his club option declined. With plenty of infielders available and Milwaukee really needing a long-term third baseman right now, they are in a great spot to bring Eduardo back or be one of his top choices.
3. Brewers Can Make the Contract Work
Escobar will be 33 years old next season, and depending on how he does the rest of the year, he will be hoping for one final bigger contract while he’s still young enough the industry will give him a multi-year deal. He is currently wrapping up a three-year, $21MM contract with Arizona.
His contract asking range will probably be in the $7-10MM a year range, and similar to the contract that he is wrapping up.
Depending on how they structure the contract, Escobar should be in Milwaukee’s range. That probable additional playoff revenue can go a long way. Christian Yelich’s deal really kicks in next year, making $26MM for the next seven years. That seems like a lot, but the team will be dumping a lot of salary within the next few years.
After 2022, Lorenzo Cain’s contract will be over and will free up $17MM. Avisail Garcia will make $12MM next year unless he hits his mutual option and selects free agency, which is very possible. If not, it still leaves another $12MM after 2022. Jackie Bradly Jr. has a $9.5MM player option for next year. He will probably take it. There is a team option for 2023 for $12MM and a $8M buyout. And unless he completely turns around next year, the team probably won’t select it.
Kolten Wong has a $10MM 2023 team option as well. The Brewers will probably select it, but that means going into the 2023 season that Milwaukee will possibly have an additional $50MM to spend on payroll. That is a lot of money for a smaller market team. If you backload Escobar’s deal, he can be very affordable the next few seasons and paid more in 2023 and 2024.
Obviously, the Brewers will want to save some money and hopefully re-sign or extend one or a combo of players like Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader and Willy Adames. Woodruff, Burnes and Adames are all under control until 2024. Hader will be a free agent after 2023. And with younger like players starting to emerge, this Milwaukee team is set up for success for many years without having to pay too much.
The arbitration on these players will definitely go higher and higher as they go along given their performances, but a few extensions would help.
Given all of that, it still gives plenty of team salary space to bring back Escobar. It’s a winning team, and they should keep winning. He’s fit into the clubhouse well and he’s a winning player, which is exactly why the Brewers can re-sign Escobar this winter.
They also can offer him a solid deal after this season. There will be plenty of competition, but Milwaukee has a great shot at keeping the talented third baseman on their roster after this year.