The Nationals announced they’ve placed infielder Alcides Escobar on unconditional release waivers. The move clears an active roster spot for Luke Voit, who is expected to join the club tomorrow. Washington’s 40-man roster count drops to 39.
Escobar has spent the past season and a half in the nation’s capital. The veteran had been playing on a minor league deal when the Nats acquired him last July while Trea Turner was battling an injury. Washington brought Escobar almost immediately to the big leagues, and he became the primary shortstop after Turner was dealt to the Dodgers at the trade deadline. It was his first MLB action in three years, and the longtime Kansas City shortstop acquitted himself well.
Through 349 plate appearances, Escobar hit .288/.340/.404 with four home runs and a trio of steals. He didn’t walk often or hit for much power, but he only struck out at a 16% clip and hit for a high enough batting average to remain productive. Unsurprisingly, he no longer rated as highly with the glove as he had at his peak, but he was a valuable enough experienced presence that Washington signed him to a $1MM extension last October.
Escobar’s 2022 production hasn’t been good, however. He’s seen his offensive output plummet to .218/.260/.282 through 131 trips to the plate. He’s striking out more often than average (24.4%) for the first time in his career, and he’s collected just six extra-base hits (four doubles and two triples). Escobar has also been charged with five errors in 307 2/3 innings at shortstop, and he’s lost playing time as the rebuilding Nats have looked to younger players. Luis García has taken over as the primary shortstop, and while the 22-year-old is miscast there, Washington just brought in rookie shortstop C.J. Abrams in the Juan Soto trade.
Given Escobar’s struggles, it’s hard to envision another team claiming him on waivers. The 35-year-old would be a free agent if he passes through unclaimed and seems likely to explore minor league opportunities elsewhere.