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D-backs GM Hazen on Escobar: He complements what we’re trying to do

Minnesota Twins' Eduardo Escobar celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a Robbie Grossman double in the sixth inning of their baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Tuesday July 24, 2018. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen has made another move to improve his team as the MLB Trade Deadline approaches.

Hazen spoke with the media Friday after the team traded for infielder Eduardo Escobar from the Minnesota Twins, discussing what he brings to the team.

“We feel like he complements what we’re trying to do pretty well,” Hazen said of Escobar. “Plays a good defensive infield, versatility, has experience at multiple positions, being a switch-hitter.”

Escobar, a .274 hitter this season, is an offensive upgrade for what the D-backs have had at shortstop and third base. Escobar’s WAR (wins above replacement) on the season is 2.6 while the D-backs’ total WAR at shortstop is 1.2 and a 1.6 number at third base.

Escobar’s career-high .852 OPS this year will be one of the best on the D-backs roster. It is only topped by A.J. Pollock (.931), Paul Goldschmidt (.907) and Daniel Descalso (.861). That .852 number overwhelms shortstop Nick Ahmed’s .724 OPS and third baseman Jake Lamb’s .655 OPS. Those two players have started a possible 66.3 percent of the team’s games at shortstop and third base.

“We love the way he plays the game, his makeup, everything we had heard about him in the clubhouse at Minnesota — it just seemed like it was a good fit for us.”

Hazen said the deal progressed more in the past day after third baseman Jake Lamb was injured in Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. Lamb was moved to the 10-day disabled list on Friday because of a left shoulder contusion.

“I think he would have helped us either way so I’m not saying that we wouldn’t have done that but it’s just hard to know exactly if this would have come together as quickly as it did,” Hazen said of the deal’s timing.

Still, Hazen said even without Lamb’s injury, they saw Escobar as a player who could contribute all over the infield.

The team gave up three minor leaguers in the deal, none of which who were ranked in the D-backs’ top-10 prospects on MLB Pipeline. Outfielder Gabriel Maciel was No. 11 and relief pitcher Jhoan Duran was 19th.

“We felt like given where the team was, what the team’s needs were, that this was a price we were willing to pay,” Hazen said.

Like J.D. Martinez the year before, Escobar represents another win-now move near the deadline by Hazen. Escobar has one year remaining on his deal.

Prior to Friday’s action, the D-backs were 1.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and 0.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves for the second Wild Card position in the NL.

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