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.