Royals agree to long-term contract with Alcides Escobar

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Alcides Escobar and the Royals have agreed to a four-year contract that includes team options for 2016 and 2017, the team announced.

Escobar is just 25 years old and not even eligible for arbitration yet after being acquired from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade last offseason, so the four-year contract simply buys out his arbitration seasons and the team options potentially cover his first two years of free agency.

According to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star the contract is worth $10.5 million in guaranteed money and as much as $21.75 million if both option years are exercised.

From the Royals’ point of view it’s certainly a gamble at this point, as Escobar has yet to show he can actually hit big-league pitching. He batted just .254 with a .290 on-base percentage and .343 slugging percentage in 158 games last season, and that .633 OPS was better than he produced for the Brewers in 2010.

He’s certainly capable of more offensively, but Escobar’s lack of power or plate discipline figure to hold him back. Of course, his defense and speed are plenty valuable and the Royals are obviously hoping that he can at least develop into a .275 hitter who isn’t a huge weakness at the bottom of the lineup.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.