The Kansas City Royals are about to begin the next step in their rebuild. However, the Royals have one player who might officially be a roadblock in their future rebuilding process.
Before we start saying “he’s been a roadblock since he re-signed this offseason”, that is not fully accurate. While the Kansas City Royals had options on paper, production wise they didn’t. Alcides Escobar filled a temporary need they had this year.
While it would have made sense for the Royals to utilize that position with a different player, for Phase 1 of the rebuild those players didn’t quite fit the mold.
But Escobar is still really bad offensively
Yes, Escobar is still really bad offensively. After spending most of last year hitting anywhere from .210-.230, his bat in the lineup is a liability. This year is no different. He is currently hitting .222/.272/.317 while playing in every game this year.
However, Escobar never has been much of an offensive player. His defense is what has helped keep him in the starting lineup throughout his career, although it isn’t elite defensive play.
The Royals are “throwing in the towel” on the year and needing to look at what they have within the system. The fact that Escobar isn’t offensively inclined, and his defense doesn’t compensate for the deficiencies his offense has, it seems like it is time to hand over the reigns to the position.
How much longer could he stay in Kansas City?
This is where things can get interesting. As it stands, Escobar is the Royals everyday starter at shortstop. However, once the Royals finish trading players like Mike Moustakas, Kelvin Herrera, and potentially some other players, Escobar may no longer have a purpose on the team. The Royals will be fully entrenched in Phase 2 of the teams rebuild.
Come July, the shift should be starting and Escobar could be on his way out. Which means that if Mondesi is 100% healthy he could, and should, get his third chance at the big league level.
While Mondesi has not had much luck at the big league level, that shouldn’t be the reason why he doesn’t get a chance this year. The 22-year-old infielder has a .181/.214/.245 slash over his first 72 big league games. However, he is 22-years-old. His struggles early on shouldn’t be a deterrent to giving him the call-up this year.
Mondesi has been playing really well in Omaha the last two years. His combined .297/.333/.542 with an OPS of .875 over the last 109 games makes me believe he is ready to get back.
The only thing is whether or not he can stay healthy. He already missed time this year due to a shoulder injury. He has also missed time with a lower-back injury earlier in his career. While it doesn’t look like he’s “injury prone” it is the reason he started the year on the DL and in Omaha.
The Royals do have other options. They could potentially look at Lopez, who has significantly less power but is hitting .323/.392/.388 in Double-A. They could also go with Ramon Torres, who has had a little MLB exposure the last two years if they wanted.
The Royals could go with Rosell Herrera too. He is the recently added infielder the Royals picked up off waiver from the Cincinnati Reds. Over his first five games in Omaha, he has hit .412/.500/.941 with two doubles, two triples, and a home run. Not too bad.
Regardless of who they decide the new starting shortstop is going to be the rest of the year is irrelevant though. The idea that the Royals need to keep Escobar in the starting lineup, or on the team, should be strongly evaluated.
Whether that means the Royals eat the rest of his contract and release him after the deadline, convert him to a bench player, or a more unlikely scenario, trade him, Escobar has become a roadblock.
A youth movement is only weeks away. Which should mean Escobar should be weeks away from no longer starting in Kansas City. I appreciate everything he has done for the Royals. He provided us with “Esky Magic” and the Game 1 leadoff inside-the-park home run in the 2015 World Series. But the Royals have to move towards a “business” mindset. Unfortunately for Escobar, I don’t think they can afford to keep Escobar in the lineup much longer.
What do you think Royals fans? Is Escobar becoming a roadblock? Should they trade him? Or would they have better luck keeping/benching/trading him? Let us know below!