6:20pm: Escobar, notably, is out of tonight’s lineup for the D-backs, though Lovullo called the injury a “slight” quadriceps strain and said Escobar is available off the bench (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan).
12:13pm: The White Sox and Diamondbacks have held discussions about a trade that would send infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Windy City, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). It isn’t known if the two sides are deep in talks, or if this is exploratory on Chicago’s part as the Sox continue to look for second base help.
One immediate wrinkle is Escobar’s injury status, as he left yesterday’s game after four innings due to tightness in right quad, D’Backs manager Torey Lovullo told The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro and other reporters. Escobar was scheduled to undergo tests today, and Lovullo noted that the removal was “precautionary” in nature.
Assuming Escobar is healthy, he is a natural trade chip. The D’Backs have the worst record in baseball and are mired in an unfathomable 17-game losing streak, so their focus has already moved to selling at the trade deadline. Escobar is in the final season of a three-year, $21MM contract that pays him $7.5MM in 2021 (roughly $4.12MM is still owed for the remainder of the season).
The White Sox, meanwhile, suffered a big loss at second base when Nick Madrigal underwent season-ending hamstring surgery last week. Danny Mendick has been filling in at the keystone since Madrigal was sidelined and utilityman Leury Garcia is also on hand, but installing a veteran like Escobar would more fully stabilize the position (especially since the Sox are also still dealing with multiple injury absences in the outfield). Escobar has been more regularly used as a third baseman in Arizona, but he has logged plenty of time at second base over the years, including 30 games at the position this season alone.
A trade would represent something of a homecoming for the 32-year-old Escobar, who originally signed with the White Sox as an amateur free agent back in 2006 and then played his first 45 big league games in a Sox uniform. Chicago dealt Escobar to the Twins as part of a deadline deal for Francisco Liriano in 2012, and Escobar was then a thorn in the side of his old team for years as he developed into a regular in Minnesota’s lineup.
After a rough 2020 season, Escobar has bounced back to be an exactly league-average hitter (100 wRC+, 100 OPS+) over 295 plate appearances this season, hitting .240/.288/.455 with 15 homers. The power numbers have helped boost his overall production, as Escobar’s 6.4% walk rate is his lowest since 2016 and he isn’t making much hard contact. The switch-hitter’s numbers against left-handed pitching have still been solid, but his production against right-handers has tailed off over the last two years.