Takeaways: Escobar dealt for prospects

D-backs beat Rangers as OF/INF Hummel, 3B Ciprian added to system

July 29th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- The retooling of the D-backs began about an hour before first pitch Wednesday night when infielder was scratched from the starting lineup and traded to the Brewers for a pair of Minor Leaguers -- infielder/outfielder Cooper Hummel and third baseman Alberto Ciprian.

Escobar’s now former teammates then went out and got a nice pitching performance from Madison Bumgarner and a clutch homer from Daulton Varsho to beat the Rangers, 3-2, splitting the two-game set at Globe Life Field.

Bumgarner allowed a pair of runs over seven innings and left the game with a lead when Varsho smacked a solo homer in the eighth off Brett Martin. 

But the real story of the night was the trade of one of the team’s leaders.

Escobar, who was acquired by the D-backs prior to the Trade Deadline in 2018, was hitting .246/300/.478, and is in the final year of a contract extension he signed after coming to Arizona.

Here's what you need to know about the deal:

Hummel is likely to be in the big leagues at some point this year
The 26-year-old switch-hitter can play both corner-outfield positions as well as first base. The D-backs may also take a look at him at catcher in the future. While he will report to Triple-A Reno initially, he should find himself in the big leagues sooner rather than later.

This year for Triple-A Nashville, he was hitting .254/.435/.508, drawing 41 walks against just 26 strikeouts. He is a guy the D-backs have had their eye on for a while.

"Offensively, from a profile standpoint, he has a great idea of the strike zone, gets on base," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "We’ve talked about this in the past, we’re going to continue to push down this road. Those skills are important to us. The defensive versatility. He may end up in one spot at some point, but the defensive versatility intrigues us, given what we’re trying to put together at the Major League level. All the work we did on his makeup was unbelievable, too. He’s a really good athlete. Those were the things we were drawn to. We’ve liked him for a while."

Ciprian has a high ceiling but is much further away
Ciprian could be the big prize in this trade if the 18-year-old continues to develop. In 12 games for the Brewers' Dominican Summer League team, the third baseman was hitting .378/.465/.514.

While some of the D-backs' top prospects are starting to reach the upper levels of the system, Hazen said the team wanted to take a chance on someone with the skills of Ciprian. The risk is greater with players further away from the Majors, but the payoff could be huge.

"He’s a toolsy kid down in the [Dominican Republic]," Hazen said. "Taking some risks, getting guys who have some ability down a little bit lower [in the Minors], guys you don’t usually have access to -- sometimes even once they come to the States. It’s hard. Teams know more and more about [their own] players, believe it or not it’s harder and harder to get interesting guys, even at the [Dominican Summer League]."

More deals likely before Friday's Trade Deadline
Hazen expects the D-backs to be active before Friday, but reiterated that any wholesale changes will likely come during the offseason.

"You know I can’t go into specifics on [possible deals]," Hazen said. "I wouldn’t expect a rash of trades, I don’t necessarily think that’s what we’re looking at right now. But I do think there’s a chance a couple of other trades that could happen."

Escobar was in the final year of his contract and the D-backs have a pair of other players in similar situations who could be dealt in closer Joakim Soria and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.

Being a seller at the Deadline is a necessity for the D-backs
The D-backs opened the year with the hopes of competing for a postseason berth, but instead they won just a combined eight games in May and June to fall out of the postseason hunt. Hazen was asked what he would say to the fans about the team's situation.

"I’m assuming our fan base would [look at] what our record is and understand that where we stand right now over the next two months, this is about acquiring as much talent as we can to continue to build forward from this point," Hazen said. "We are committed to doing that and we are putting every ounce of energy into doing that. All those things aren’t going to be accomplished between now and Friday at 1 p.m. MST, but in time with the continued acquisitions, little by little, we expect that to add up into bigger things."

Arizona may not have seen the last of Escobar
Escobar, 32, has made no secret of how much he loved playing in Arizona and said he would be open to returning as a free agent following the season.

“For sure," he said. "I love it here. My focus right now is play hard every day and help Milwaukee win. That’s the most important thing about my mentality. As far as signing back here, I’d do it. I love it here and have great friends here, but I don’t have control."