The Detroit Tigers are in need of a veteran shortstop to plug-in for the 2019 season. Could longtime Royal Alcides Escobar be the answer?
Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila is going to have a busy offseason. Chief among his duties this winter will be finding a replacement shortstop for Jose Iglesias (that is unless they choose to re-sign the veteran).
As of now, the Tigers have Ronny Rodriguez as their likely starting shortstop – with Niko Goodrum playing second base and Dawel Lugo their potential utility infielder. The team did re-sign Pete Kozma to a minor league deal, but it is unlikely he would take over as their starter.
The team’s future at shortstop is going to belong to one of their numerous infield prospects; with Sergio Alcantara, Willi Castro and possibly Isaac Paredes options as soon as 2020, and Jose King, Alvaro Gonzalez and Wenceel Perez options down the line.
For now though, they have a need if they don’t want Rodriguez to run the show full-time. Anyone they sign would likely be on a one or two-year deal, and would become trade bait in July if they are performing well.
There are plenty of options they could look for, including Jordy Mercer and Adeiny Hechavarria. However, one option that Detroit could pursue is a familiar foe – longtime Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Bringing Escobar to Detroit
Escobar made his big league debut way back in 2008 with the Milwaukee Brewers, but has been with the Royals since 2011. He has been remarkably consistent in that time, playing in 140 games in each of the last eight seasons and hitting around .260 with a low walk rate, virtually no power but plenty of plus value on the bases and in the field.
Unfortunately for Escobar, that baserunning and defensive value has slipped as he has gotten older. In fact, 2018 was Escobar’s first negative fWAR season. His defense was still slightly above average at shortstop, but he only swiped eight bases and his slash line slipped to .231/.279/.313.
Escobar would give Detroit a steady, experienced veteran at a very low cost. It’s possible he ends up agreeing to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training – and even if he does sign a major league deal it will no doubt be a small one.
However, unlike Mercer or even Iglesias, Escobar is unlikely to hold much trade value for the Detroit Tigers. As such, signing him would likely be committing to him as their shortstop all season. They could always bench him if Rodriguez plays well, or if Alcantara/Castro are ready during the season.
The Detroit Tigers have multiple options to shore up their need at shortstop before the start of the 2019 season. Escobar may not be the most exciting, but he is a consistent performer who would give Detroit steady defense and speed on the bases.