Rays SS Yunel Escobar hit .256 with a .332 OBP, including nine home runs, 27 doubles and 56 RBI in 2013.
Escobar, 30, has a $5 million option for each 2014 and 2015, after which he is eligible to be a free agent.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
There is speculation in Tampa that the Rays may decline Escobar‘s option and make him a free agent, depending on what they decide to do with David Price and others this winter, according to people close to the team. In the case of Escobar, it would seem Tampa’s goal would be to shed payroll, not just gain prospects, so there is a chance he could have a fit in Queens, especially since he’s under contract for just two seasons. He and Daniel Murphy would be one of the more productive middle infields in the National League.
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
Escobar’s offense has been up and down the past few years, but he managed a .255/.332/.366 slash line in 2013, which is solid for a shortstop. His OBP is particularly appealing and would have ranked 3rd on the Mets (after David Wright and Lucas Duda). He’s a tough player to strike out and doesn’t hit very many fly balls, which should play well in Citi Field. He also has minimal splits, which would be a nice addition to a team that frequently struggles against lefties. He’s been an above average defender for his career, with a solid arm. Strong defense is a big boost at shortstop, so this should make him an appealing option. However, he’ll be 31 next season, so he’s at risk to begin declining over the next couple of years.
Andrew Wharton, Contributor
Escobar is a headache. It’s a shame, too, because the guy’s career started off so promising in Atlanta. However, he found himself being benched for disciplinary reasons on numerous occasions by former Braves manager Bobby Cox, and then there was this incident while he was in Toronto. His bat would be an upgrade at the position, and he plays a very good shortstop, but I don’t think he should be a primary target for the Mets this winter. Escobar could be a good fallback option if he takes an incentive-laden deal with a low base salary, but he isn’t the type of player I can easily root for. He’d have to earn the respect of many fans through his play on the field.
Michael Baron, ContributorEscobar has been such a mystery during his career. When he first came up with the Braves, he was billed as an all-around shortstop, as he could be a contact hitter who could hit for some power and drive in runs. His offense has been inconsistent over the years, although he remains an outstanding defensive player. But, his behavior and maturity has been a problem, and there’s a fair question as to whether or not Escobar can stay within himself going forward. I have to wonder if he hasn’t served as his own distraction over the years which has might have prevented him from blossoming into the player he was expected to become.
He did manage to stay out of trouble with the Rays this past season, had a very good year and Joe Maddon actually took a liking to Escobar as time went on. I have to wonder if that relationship might compel the Rays to pick up Escobar’s option for next season, but if they don’t, he could serve as a backup option to someone like Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta.