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.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.