TODAY: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports that Escobar’s deal is a minor league arrangement.
Feb 15, 10:44pm: Escobar and the Jays are in agreement on a contract pending a physical, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (on X). Terms of the deal remain unreported. Escobar is represented by DJ Rengifo y Associates.
9:55pm: Infielder Eduardo Escobar is nearing agreement on a free agent deal with the Blue Jays, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (X link). It’s not known if the former All-Star is closing in on a big league contract or a minor league pact with a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
Escobar, 35, is coming off a disappointing 2023 campaign. He opened the season as the Mets’ third baseman but began the year in a dreadful slump. Escobar carried a .125/.173/.229 line into the middle of April and lost the starting job to Brett Baty. The 13-year MLB veteran turned things around in a depth role but seemed a bit superfluous on the New York roster once Baty was recalled.
The Angels, reeling with infield injuries in late June, acquired Escobar for a pair of minor league pitchers. He didn’t produce much offensively, slumping to a .219/.259/.303 slash over 59 contests. The Halos made the obvious call to buy him out for $500K at year’s end as opposed to retaining him via $9MM team option.
Escobar finished the season with a combined .226/.269/.344 batting line in 309 trips to the plate. He struck out in a little more than a quarter of his plate appearances against a 5.8% walk percentage. While he has never had great strikeout and walk numbers, Escobar’s power production dropped off sharply. He hit six home runs after topping the 20-homer mark in each of the prior five full schedules. That was the result of a significant uptick in ground-balls and a drop in his hard contact rate.
The Jays will hope for something more closely approximating his 2021-22 form. Escobar was a slightly above-average hitter in each of those seasons and combined for a .247/.305/.452 showing with 48 longballs over that stretch.
Escobar’s defensive grades have dropped off as he’s gotten into his mid-30s. He can play any of first, second or third base but received below-average marks at all three spots (although his first base experience is limited enough that it’s difficult to draw conclusions about his glovework there).
Toronto has a number of upper level infield options but doesn’t have much certainty at either second or third base. Last year’s primary starters, Whit Merrifield and Matt Chapman, are free agents. The Jays brought in Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a two-year pact. Davis Schneider, Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Ernie Clement and prospect Addison Barger are all on the 40-man roster and could vie for reps at one or both positions.