The Royals are near a deal to re-sign shorstop Alcides Escobar, according to reports from both FanRag reporter Jon Heyman and MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan. The 31-year old has spent the last seven years with the Royals after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers. He was an All-Star in 2015, winning a Gold Glove and American League Championship Series MVP. Last year he hit .250/.272/.357 with six home runs, and played in all 162 games for the second consecutive year.
Escobar was a 2.5 WAR player as recently as 2014, according to Baseball Reference, but has been barely over replacement level since then. Over the last three seasons, he has been the second-worst hitter in baseball, by wRC+. His calling card has been his defense, which has been in decline, but he did enjoy a nice renaissance last year with the glove.
Still, his return poses some questions since the Royals already have once-top prospect Raúl Mondesí on the roster ready to play shortstop at the Major League level. Is Escobar preparing to take a reserve role? That seems unlikely considering how much trust Ned Yost has in him. Could Raúl Mondesí be moving to the outfield? Dayton Moore has raised the possibility but it seems like an unwise challenge to his development. Could Mondesí be moving to second base with Whit Merrifield moving to centerfield or possibly being traded? The Royals have already scheduled a bobblehead day for Whit, but that wouldn’t necessarily preclude a trade.
Let’s wait and see if this deal gets done, but right now it seems to make little sense for a team that is clearly rebuilding.
Update 9:28 a.m: Done deal, according to FanRag reporter Robert Murray.
Source: #Royals, Alcides Escobar have a deal, pending physical.— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayFRS) January 26, 2018
Update 2:07 p.m: Esky is getting a paycut from his $6.5 million salary in 2017.
Alcides Escobar's deal with the Royals is for $2.5 million.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 26, 2018