Blue Jays Extend Yunel Escobar

The Blue Jays have announced that shortstop Yunel Escobar has agreed to a $10 million contract extension for 2012 and 2013. The deal also includes two club options at the same rate for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The deal locks up twenty eight year old’s final two years of arbitration, and gives the Blue Jays the option to pick up his first two years of free agency.

Over the last three years, only five other shortstops in the Major Leagues have produced more wins above replacement, and only three have a higher on base percentage over that same time period: Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Derek Jeter. This season, Escobar has been avoiding outs at a higher rate than any other shortstop in the American League.

Having a player at a marquee defensive position who can contribute offensively at the level that Escobar does is somewhat taken for granted by casual Blue Jays fans. The fact that they acquired him at such a relatively low cost (with Jo-Jo Reyes from the Braves in July of 2010 for Tyler Pastornicky, Tim Collins and Alex Gonzalez) makes Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos look good. Locking Escobar up at such a reasonable rate for potentially the next four seasons makes him look even better.

Looking at Escobar’s body type it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s eventually moved to second base or third base depending on the development of Adeiny Hechavaria and Brett Lawrie.

Comments (20)

  1. Great move to get it done now, as opposed to the end of the season when the price could rise exponentially higher. It also gives the Jays tons of flexibility should Hech come up or Escobar’s production declines. AA strikes gold again.

  2. Agreed. He’s been great, and this is a great deal. Unless he falls entirely off a cliff, 5 million will never be an overpayment for an above average SS.

  3. Between this and the Adam Lind deal, the player’s union cannot be too happy with Mr. Anthopoulous.

  4. Pretty amazing deal it seems to me, could get full value of that deal half way through the deal the way he’s played this year.

    Last season definitely cost him a ton of cash, and probably smart on his part to take the cash he can get vs the risk he comes back to his 2010 levels, even though I don’t see it happening. Know from past experience that being in a situation where your bosses hate you can put a pretty big dent in your performance.

  5. escobar does seem to be getting more weighty, doesn’t he?

  6. great deal. i’m just going to say it flat-out – Hill’s gone at the end of the year. it’ll be Escobar moving to second to make room at shortstop when the time comes for Hech, which i’m hoping will be next spring.

  7. Hech ready for next year? Are you high?
    Fantastic deal for sure.

  8. I cannot believe Escobar signed this ridiculously cheap. He could easily provide the same value as Jose Reyes the next 4 years if Reyes’ injury issues come back just a little. He might not be able to stick around at SS for the duration of the deal with the presence of Hech, but who knows.

    I was thinking to myself the other day that Escobar could probably be a bargain on an extension because he doesn’t have big HR numbers (though they’re solid for a SS) or high SB numbers. Plus last year and his unceremonious exit from ATL definately hurt his value.

    SS with his OBP numbers don’t grow on trees; another fabulous deal by AA.

    Just watch Dustin McGowan come back, finish with 2 strong months and sign a 1 year $2 million deal with 4 contract options on his first 4 free agent years…if anyone could pull it off, it’s AA.

  9. Also of note, looking at Fangraphs’ WAR for SS since 2009…I see that Alexei Ramirez places 4th almost entirely on fielding…would anyone really want him over Escobar? Maybe going forward since he has massively improved his walk rate this year…but not in the last in the last 3 years IMO.

    I almost think people need to start saying “he’s had a __ offensive WAR since __ with the evaluation of his defence ranging from __ to __”

    There’s just too much variance between defensive metrics & scouting opinions to use one metric as the uber-metric.

  10. This deal is just absurdly good. Escobar will cost the Jays, at worst, slightly more than he we have in arbitration in 2012 and almost certainly less than he would have in 2013 unless he completely falls off of a cliff. Based on that, even the part of the contract that is guaranteed looks like a good deal.

    As for the first two years of Escobar’s free agency being team options just… wow. If they had been for $8M and $9M I probably would have thought “Okay, sure. That might very well be a good value and they are team options so the team has flexibility if it isn’t.”

    Heck, even if 2014 and 2015 had been guaranteed years at $8M and $9M I probably wouldn’t say it’s a BAD contract. Not great, but not bad.

    The fact that the price is so low for his first two years of free agency AND they are team options is just ridiculous. I never would have expected Escobar’s agent to agree to this. What a coup.

  11. what a ridiculously stupid contract for junel. how does alex keep swindling these players? junel gives up 2 years of free agency to get 1 measly guaranteed year? junel prob could have gotten 4/32 as a free agent. the union must be furious once again.

  12. Conversely, just imagine how happy management must be with AA. Jesus, if anyone has earned a raise this year, its him. Financially speaking, Rogers must be overjoyed with his management so far.

  13. I would assume YEscobar is happy to get a contract like this since he seems very, very happy with the Jays organization after his bad experience with Atlanta. That doesn’t really explain the weak numbers in the option years entirely, but maybe it’s part of the story.

    • Weird thing I don’t know that I realized: Yunel Escobar has the 7th best OPS versus left-handed pitching in all of baseball. Ahead of Kevin Youkilis, Mike Stanton, Paul Konerko, and Miguel Cabrera. Crazy.

  14. @Canuckistani Good point.

    Also, does anyone know if he can send more money back to relatives in Cuba by living in Canada as opposed to the US? The US government only allows Americans to send limited amounts of cash (like $2000 or something) to relatives in Cuba. I am unaware of any similar Canadian rules.

  15. In Cuba, gifts from families send you.

  16. You guys may be on to something here. With the option years so low, it makes it very attractive for the Jays to keep him. And with Canada having a much more open attitude to Cuba, that would give him long enough to get permanent residency here. This may be as much about citizenship as baseball.

  17. The Braves announcers are comparing Gonzalez and Escobar, noting that Escobar has hit for better average, but that Gonzalez has driven in more runs. I for one agree. At the end of the day, you really need a player like Alex whos able to come up big in clutch hitting situations, and not just “get on base” and “create opportunities”. Alex Gonzalez has learned to relax on the diamond, whereas Escobar is still just too firey a player.

  18. It made me laugh.

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