With a top shortstop prospect on the way, the rebuilding San Diego Padres may have their eyes on a veteran free agent to hold down the position in the short term.
The Padres' interest in Escobar as a short-term option stems from the fact top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. – ranked the Padres' No. 5 prospect and the 51st overall by MLB Pipeline – is rapidly moving up in their farm system. The 18-year-old slashed .278/.379/.498 with 22 homers, 27 doubles, and 32 stolen bases in 2017, and made a midseason jump from the Class-A Midwest League all the way to Double-A, and skipped the High-A level entirely.
According to Heyman, the Padres believe Tatis could be ready for the majors as soon as next season – hence, their apparent interest in Escobar on a shorter deal.
Escobar, who turns 31 in December, hit just .250/.272/.357 with six homers for the Kansas City Royals last season, while contributing just 0.5 WAR. The majority of his value comes on the defensive side, where he won a Gold Glove in 2015; Escobar is also durable, having appeared in all 162 games for the Royals during three of the past four seasons.
Escobar was the only Royals free agent not to be tendered a qualifying offer this winter, meaning he can be signed without having to send the Royals draft-pick compensation.
Padres shortstops hit a combined .215/.278/.323 in 2017 and produced minus-2.5 WAR, the lowest total production at the position in baseball.
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