The scene was what everyone expected it to be, a bittersweet, tear-jerking moment when the KC Royals and a 2017 season-ending Kauffman Stadium crowd paid final tribute to four key players who helped the club win two straight American League pennants and its second World Series title.
Few thought any of that championship core—Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar—would return in 2018. All would soon be free agents, and the frugal Royals probably wouldn’t spend the kind of money required to re-sign all, much less any, of them.
So it was that a sense of finality began to settle in late that October day when the four left the field together, waving to the fans who’d adored them and their regular and postseason heroics.
Strangely enough, however, the finality of it all wasn’t all that final. Half the core quartet did indeed leave, while the other half remained, albeit temporarily.
Four years later, how are the Royals and the core doing?
The shortstop returned to the KC Royals twice before settling in elsewhere.
Of the four key free agents, Alcides Escobar was the most dispensable, which may explain why he came back for 2018 —a good market didn’t develop for him, and he re-upped with the Royals in January.
Escobar, who Ned Yost insisted on using in the leadoff spot despite his lack of statistical bona fides for the role, had played every game in 2017 and batted .250. His return relieved Kansas City of the stress of immediately finding a new full-time shortstop, but he hit a career low .231 in 2018 and, with Adalberto Mondesi apparently ready to succeed him, Escobar’s days with the Kansas City organization appeared over.
And they were…for a time. He played in the Baltimore and White Sox minor league systems in 2019, then signed again with the Royals last May. He didn’t get back to The K, but had a good year with Washington (.288/.340/.404) after Kansas City sold him to the Nationals in July. He signed a new one-year deal with them in October.