It’s not a popular opinion among the Kansas City Royals fanbase, but the team would benefit from re-signing Alcides Escobar. Here’s why it makes sense.
I know. Bring back Alcides Escobar?! Where I have been? Hear me out, though. If the Royals really do plan on rebuilding, Escobar makes perfect sense for the team.
Yes, I am fully away that his offensive numbers are not something to brag about. During his seven years in Kansas City, Escobar has hit .262/.293/.348 with just 32 home runs. He has also struck out 613 times compared to just 162 walks. Even though his slash line isn’t awful, his lack of power and his high number of strikeouts is hard to swallow.
So why bring back Escobar?
Forget the offense. Forget the frustration you feel when he swings at every first pitch. And forget his long spells of not getting a hit. The reason the Kansas City Royals bring Escobar back is two-fold: durability and defense.
Since 2014, Escobar has played 634 games. That means he has played in 98 percent of the team’s regular season games. That doesn’t include the postseason games he played in during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He has played the most consecutive games in franchise history, while playing all 162 games three of the last four years. My point is: He’s durable. Having a player you know takes care of his body and trains as well as Escobar has throughout his career is a comforting feeling.
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Defensively, his .978 fielding percentage ranks him among the top five shortstops in the American League this year. However, he played 27 more innings than any of the other shortstops in front of him. He also finished just .002 percentage points behind the Angels Andrelton Simmons, who finished the year winning the AL Gold Glove at the position. That means Escobar committed one more error than Simmons, while playing 34 more innings. Escobar is still a defensive highlight reel, making jaw dropping plays frequently.
More importantly, when it comes to defense, chemistry is vital. Whit Merrifield won the second base position this past year and has had nearly a full year working with Escobar. The two have great chemistry, because of this the Kansas City Royals would know that the middle infield would be a non-issue. The middle infield would probably be one of the strongest spots defensively for the team. Also, with the awful start Raul Mondesi has had offensively in the big leagues, Escobar’s lackluster offense doesn’t look all that bad.
If the Kansas City Royals are really considering a full rebuild, having a player that is durable and defensively sound can be a huge asset. A player who knows what it take to win — having won two AL pennants, a World Series and an ALCS MVP award — and already has team chemistry makes sense.
It also helps that his contract will be one of the cheapest and one the team could afford. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports projects Escobar to reel in a one-year, $5 million contract this offseason. For that price, it is hard to imagine a better shortstop option for a team that is rebuilding.
What do you think, fans? Would the Royals be smart to re-sign Escobar, at least for one season? Or should they turn over shortstop duties to Mondesi? Let us know your thoughts.