Angels acquire Eduardo Escobar, reaffirming their commitment to make playoffs

New York Mets' Eduardo Escobar runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the ninth inning.
Eduardo Escobar runs the bases after hitting a two-run homer for the New York Mets on May 16. The Angels acquired Escobar on Friday in a move to bolster their injury-depleted infield.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)
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The Angels wasted little time pondering whether their existing infield substitutions were sufficient enough to weather the number of injuries recently affecting them.

In trading for Mets’ infielder Eduardo Escobar ahead of their series opener against the Rockies in Colorado, the Angels added to their depth with a veteran who has primarily played third base, but has plenty of major league experience at second base and shortstop, as well.

Escobar struggled at the plate early as a starter for New York this season, performing better behind Mets’ rookie third baseman Brett Baty — who was called up in April amid Escobar’s slow performance — and off the bench. Through April (17 games, 16 games started), Escobar batted .158 with a .530 on-base-plus-slugging rate, but between May and his last game with the Mets on June 20 (23 G, 16 GS), he was batting .321 with an .870 OPS. He also has three doubles, two triples, four home runs and 16 runs batted in this season.


Still, the move for Escobar showed the Angels’ continued commitment to try to get to the playoffs by avoiding what had the potential to become another third base conundrum. It also can lessen the strain left on the infield and in the lineup as a result of Zach Neto, Anthony Rendon and Gio Urshela’s absences.

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The Escobar trade — which included cash considerations for the Angels and the Mets receiving their MLB-ranked Nos. 11 and 18 prospects, pitchers Coleman Crow and Landon Marceaux — also represents a low financial risk for the Angels, with his salary minus the minimum being paid by the Mets, per SNY’s Andy Martino. Escobar will earn $9.5 million this season, his full contract with the Mets, which started in 2022, a two-year, $20-million deal with a $9-million club option ($500,000 buyout) for 2024.

The injury to starting shortstop Neto (oblique strain) was already challenging enough to overcome considering the defense he provided and his surging bat. When Urshela (pelvis fracture) and Rendon (left wrist contusion) got injured the same day Neto hit the injured list, the depth the Angels built up in the offseason took a significant hit.

Urshela was brought in during the offseason to be the next third baseman up in instances Rendon could not play. Urshela was also valuable to the Angels for his ability to play elsewhere in the infield and for the potential of his bat — he was hitting .299 with an OBP of .329 and an OPS of .703 before his season was over.

The Angels brought up Andrew Velazquez, Michael Stefanic and Kevin Padlo from triple A to fill the spots on the roster for now, but major league talent is what they need.

There is still no timeline on a return for Rendon, who is on the IL for the second time this season. Even if Rendon remains healthy through the rest of the season, load management was always meant to be part of his schedule in 2023.

Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon throws a baseball.
It’s unclear when Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon will return from a left wrist contusion he suffered earlier this month.
(Gareth Patterson / Associated Press)

Without Rendon and Urshela, the Angels remaining third base options were Luis Rengifo and Brandon Drury, both of whom play better elsewhere. The Angels’ best chance at trying to retain a solid position in the standings — 41-36 and half a game out of a playoff spot — after the flurry of recent injuries needed to begin with addressing third base. Escobar figures to play the role left by Urshela’s absence.

In a farewell to Mets fans posted on Twitter, Escobar shared his sadness in leaving New York with gratitude to the Angels for his next stop.

“An honor to play for the Mets, always with a lot of love, passion and, above all, respect, it’s a sad day, but in the end, God always has control of everything,” Escobar wrote. “I feel proud of what I was able to do here and give the best of me better times are coming... thanks to the new organization of the Los Angeles Angels for giving me this great opportunity I will know how to give my best to help the team.”

Escobar has always had a positive and upbeat personality, which fits right in with the Angels clubhouse. He also gives them another veteran leader.

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After the Angels’ 7-4 loss to the Rockies in Colorado on Friday, manager Phil Nevin told reporters that he found out about Escobar’s move to Anaheim before they took the field for the game in Denver. He also said all the text messages he’s been receiving about Escobar were nothing but praise-worthy.


“What a great guy he is, wants to win, competitor,” Nevin said. “Looking forward to having him here.”

Mets’ shortstop Francisco Lindor spoke fondly over the Apple TV broadcast of Escobar, who was not playing at the moment, but was traded in the middle of the Mets game against the Phillies.

“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Lindor said over the broadcast. “He’s an amazing player. … I don’t know where he went, but wherever he goes, hopefully he gets the opportunity and helps that team win.

“The nights I had rough nights, he was there for me. So, I’m definitely gonna miss him.”

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Escobar played for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, and has already played alongside Rengifo, who was also on that team.

Escobar’s experience also includes an All-Star nod in 2021 and playoff runs with three teams: the Minnesota Twins in 2017, the Milwaukee Brewers in 2021 and the Mets last season.

The Angels have dropped three games in a row, though are still in play for at least an American League Wild Card spot. Adding Escobar addresses one piece of the new puzzle — of the Angels existing 26-man roster, 14 started the season with them.


But the team still needs help, either by returning injured players or making additional moves ahead of the trade deadline.