Rays, Escobar Have Had “Serious” Extension Talks

The Rays have already hammered out one extension recently, locking up right-hander Chris Archer to a six-year contract yesterday. Now, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, via Twitter, that the club has also had serious extension talks with shortstop Yunel Escobar. While nothing is close with Escobar, who recently switched agencies and is now represented by Miami Sports Management, Topkin's source says an extension is still very possible.

The 31-year-old Escobar is controlled through the 2015 season via a $5MM club option — the final year of team control for Escobar on a two-year, $10MM extension with three separate $5MM club options signed midway through the 2011 campaign. That deal was signed with the Blue Jays, and since that time he's found himself traded to the Marlins and then the Rays (he never appeared in a game for Miami).

Escobar batted .256/.332/.366 last season in his first year with the Rays, belting nine homers and playing excellent defense at shortstop. Despite the pedestrian batting line, Escobar was valued at 3.3 rWAR and 3.9 fWAR due to his outstanding defensive contributions and the fact that his roughly league-average offensive production (97 OPS+, 100 wRC+) came from the shortstop position.

Escobar's six years, 121 days of Major League service upon entering the season are very close to the six years, 99 days that J.J. Hardy had when he signed a three-year, $22.5MM contract extension with the Orioles in July 2011. That contract is a bit outdated, but it could still serve as a reference point in negotiations between the two sides (my own speculation). Of course, Hardy was coming up on free agency at the time, whereas Escobar does have another year of team control remaining. And, while both are regarded as plus defenders at short, Hardy has considerably more pop in his bat, though it comes at the cost of a significantly lower OBP than Escobar's career mark of .350.

Robbie Knopf of Rays Colored Glasses first wrote about extension talks between the two sides yesterday afternoon.



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