What Eduardo Escobar Trade Means for Milwaukee Brewers
Ralph Freso/Getty Images. Pictured: Eduardo Escobar
The Milwaukee Brewers entered the day with a seven-game lead in the NL Central and further solidified their lineup with the acquisition of All-Star Eduardo Escobar on Wednesday night, according to multiple media reports.
Escobar, who has split time between second and third base during parts of four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, is hitting .246/.300/.478 this year with 22 home runs and a 105 wRC+ (meaning his offensive production is 5% better than a league-average hitter).
He will join a Brewers infield that entered the season in flux. The team swung an earlier trade for shortstop Willy Adames, and Escobar will presumably slot in at third in place of Luis Urias while occasionally spotting Kolten Wong at second base.
Milwaukee entered play as a heavy favorite to win the NL Central at -800 according to DraftKings, with the closest competitors, the Cincinnati Reds, sitting at +1100. The Brewers had the fourth-lowest odds to claim the NL pennant at +525, behind the Dodgers (+175), Mets (+425) and Padres (+450). The Brewers’ World Series odds were the seventh-lowest at +1200.
The Brewers have been carried all season by their pitching, with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta fronting a rotation that is tied for the National League lead in xFIP at 3.72 as a unit. Their offense has lagged behind, however, as their team wRC+ of 90 ranks just 10th in the league.
Escobar and his above-average production should help boost their offense for the stretch run.
Sean Zerillo’s Trade Analysis
The Escobar acquisition doesn’t significantly impact the Brewers’ 2021 outlook, but it certainly gives them a slight bump in my projections — by about 0.4 wins in terms of True Talent level.
Before the trade, I had the Brewers as an 88.9 win team in my power rankings. If the season started tomorrow, I would project them at 89.3 wins.
My prorated projection for 2021 has Milwaukee finishing at 92.6 wins, well clear of the Reds at 82 wins (79.9 wins of True Talent), Cardinals at 80.5 wins (82.4 wins of True Talent), or the Cubs at 79.8 wins (80.6 wins of True Talent) in their division.
Escobar fits nicely into the Brewers’ defensive identity because of his ability to play average defense at both second base (0 DRS in 42 Games) or third base (+1 in 65 games played).
Though he’s a switch hitter, Escobar primarily excels against southpaw pitching (career 104 wRC+, 126 in 2021) and will boost the Brewers’ offense (96 wrC+, 19th in MLB) against left-handed pitching.
However, Milwaukee has performed even worse against right-handed pitching (88 wRC+), so getting a productive left-handed bat could still be a priority.