Signing former players with questionable baseball futures is an itch the KC Royals seemingly can’t resist scratching. They brought back struggling Greg Holland two winters ago and downtrodden Wade Davis in January. Lucas Duda came back in in 2019, a Royals’ move even more ill-advised than the first time they signed him. Terrance Gore, an admirable but one-dimensional player who catches on with big league teams for snippets of time, returned once.
The Holland reunion has gone fairly well; although the jury is still out on Davis, his has been a troublesome return. Duda Redux never should have happened, and Gore’s short return ended predictably when Kansas City let him go to the Yankees.
Now, add Alcides Escobar to the list of Kansas City’s returnees. How much fruit, if any, the reunion ultimately bears remains to be seen, but a breakup seemed imminent almost from the start.
Until two days ago, that is.
But let’s go back a bit. Escobar was a mainstay in the KC Royals’ lineup from 2010-2018, their regular shortstop who, in just a single season (2015), won the Most Valuable Player award in the American League Championship Series, earned a Gold Glove, started in the All-Star Game, and led off the bottom of the first inning of Game One of the World Series with an inside-the-park home run. He hit a serviceable .259 in eight KC seasons but hasn’t played in the majors since 2018.
Kansas City re-signed Escobar May 4 (it’s actually his second time back) and immediately assigned him to Triple-A Omaha. He hadn’t seen action since hitting .273 in 104 games with the Yakult Swallows in Japan last season, and didn’t get in a Storm Chasers’ game until May 9.
Perhaps he was rusty or, like most hitters, simply needed time to dial in. Whatever the cause, Escobar went hitless in his first three games, singled in his fourth, played two more games without a hit, then doubled Sunday before an 0-for-3 Tuesday dropped his average to .087.
He exploded Wednesday night against Indianapolis.
First came a single in the third, then another in the fourth that scored two runs.
Escobar slugged his first homer of the season in the sixth, a two-run shot to left that broke a 5-5 tie.
He made it a perfect 4-for-4 night with an eighth inning single.
But after going an embarrassing 2-for-23 before Wednesday, those four hits weren’t enough for Escobar. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a single Thursday against the Indians; that miniscule .087 average now stands at a robust .290.
He gets another shot at Indianapolis pitching tonight when Omaha hosts the Indians in a 7:05 p.m. contest.
Should fans expect Alcides Escobar to rejoin the KC Royals this season?
So, does his two-game 7-for-8 splurge enhance Escobar’s chances to return to Kauffman Stadium?
No, not without more, or unless catastrophe strikes the Kansas City infield. The Royals shouldn’t consider promoting Escobar unless he continues to hit well—he won’t have to have three or four hits every game, but must remain competent at the plate—or injuries on the big club force the issue. Adalberto Mondesi is back at shortstop now and, should injury befall him again, Nicky Lopez is a more than adequate defensive shortstop. And Hanser Alberto can also play the position.
All that means Escobar probably won’t make it back to Kansas City. He might end up as a trade piece later in the season; his job now, though, is to provide farm system depth.
Alcides Escobar is back in the KC Royals’ fold. A couple of big games may not help him get back to Kansas City, but one never knows.