Kansas City Royals Should Not Extend Alcides Escobar

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If the Kansas City Royals do not re-sign Alex Gordon, their biggest moves this offseason may involve extending their core. Should Alcides Escobar be a part of that discussion?

There is no questioning what Alcides Escobar provides the Kansas City Royals. His exceptional defense, finally recognized with his first Gold Glove award this season, has been a major part of the Royals success over the past three years. A good luck charm atop the lineup, he was the catalyst that helped the Royals to break out of their offensive slump and spurred them forward in the postseason. The ALCS MVP, the Royals likely do not win the World Series without Escobar.

With that being the case, it is not a surprise that the Royals would consider Escobar among their candidates for a possible extension. A vital cog in their defense first philosophy, locking in the 29 year old shortstop to an extension would certainly fit the new Royals Way.

However, it is fair to wonder whether or not Escobar is worth an extension. Throughout his career, Escobar’s greatest assets have been his defense and speed, two aspects that typically do not age well. Should Escobar lose a step at both strengths, the Royals would then be paying for his career .262/.298/.344 batting line and 76 OPS+. Even in Escobar’s best season, 2012, his .293/.331/.390 batting line was a shade below league average.

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With Escobar currently in the midst of his prime, one likely cannot expect his offensive profile to improve beyond that 2012 peak. Last year, Escobar hit at a meager .257/.293/.320 rate while stealing only 17 bases, a dropoff of almost 50% from 2014. While his numbers may rebound, what would Escobar be worth following the 2017 season, when he would be 31 years old?

Further complicating the matter for the Kansas City Royals is the presence of Raul Mondesi. Mondesi, who made his major league debut during the World Series, may be the Royals top prospect overall, and was a consensus top 40 prospect at the start of the 2015 season. Even though his .243/.279/.372 batting line may not be impressive, he produced at that level as a 19 year old in AA, where he was one of the youngest players in the league.

Mondesi, who is expected to have more power as he develops, has already shown some signs of progress. Despite an increase in the level of competition, his strikeout and walk rates remained approximately the same from 2014, Mondesi did increase his wRC+ by eight points and had a fifteen point increase in his wOBA.

In another two seasons, when Mondesi will be 21 with more time to develop at either the AA or AAA level, he may well be ready for the majors. At that point, he would be a lower cost option with far more upside than the offensively limited Escobar. Defensively, Mondesi may turn out to be just as good, if not better, than Escobar, as he already possesses an excellent arm and good range. With more experience, that range is likely to improve, given his speed and quickness.

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Exploring an extension for players like Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain would make sense for the Kansas City Royals. If Mike Moustakas can replicate his success from 2015, he is another potential extension candidate. However, for a team with the budgetary limits that the Royals have, Alcides Escobar simply may not be worth the price that an extension would cost.

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