Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/20/14
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You can try to dispense of these notes on the Alcides Escobar extension, but you won’t be able to: as the title of this post suggests, they’re indispensible.

Regarding Alcides Escobar, The Extension He Signed
Escobar and the Royals agreed Thursday to a four-year, $10.5 million extension that includes a pair of club options that could bring the overall value of the contract to $21.75. Per the Associated Press, “Escobar will make $1 million this season and $3 million each of the next three seasons. The options are for $5.25 million in 2016 and $6.5 million in 2017 with $500,000 buyouts each year.”

Regarding the Extension, What It Means in Terms of Market Value
Below is a table that examines Escobar’s relative to expected market value. $M/Win is projected market value (in millions of dollars) per win, $M/Yr is how much (in millions of dollars) Escobar is actually getting paid, ArbYr represents the arbitration years Escobar would have been in before signing the contract, MarkVal is what percentage of market value an arb-eligible player generally receives relative to market value, and MarkWAR is the projected WAR implied by a player’s salary.
Year $M/Win $M/Yr ArbYr MarkVal MarkWAR 2012 $5.00 $1.00 Pre LgMin 0.0 2013 $5.25 $3.00 1 40% 1.4 2014 $5.51 $3.00 2 60% 0.9 2015 $5.79 $3.00 3 80% 0.6 2016 $6.08 $5.25 FA 100% 0.9 2017 $6.38 $6.50 FA 100% 1.0 Total   $21.75     4.9

Regarding Escobar, His Likely Value, 2012-17
There seems to be little question that Escobar will be worth at least five wins between now and the end of the 2017 season. In 2012, he was pretty miserable offensively (63 wRC+), and still managed to post a 0.9 WAR in 552 plate appearances. Last year, with a larger boost from UZR (+10.2), Escobar recorded 2.2 WAR in 598 plate appearances.

Escobar’s ceiling is limited by his lack of power, and it seems unlikely that he’ll ever become even an average offensive player. The FANS projection has him putting up only -7.6 weighted runs relative to avergae in 554 plate appearances — this, relative to figures of -21.8 and -16.5 in 2010 and ’11, respectively. Something closer to -15 runs is probably more reasonable.

Defensively, he receives excellent ratings both from the Fans Scouting Report (+15 in 2011) and UZR, (+5.9 UZR/150 in 2840.2 career innings at short). Putting those numbers together, it’s reasonable to project Escobar for something like 1.0-2.0 wins per season over the duration of his contract, meaning the Royals are getting something like 2-6 wins for “free” with this deal — relative to what they’d have to pay a free agent, that is.

Regarding What This Means for the Royals, If Anything
Escobar is the second pre-arb player the Royals have signed to an extension in the last month, having agreed with catcher Salvador Perez to a five-year, $7 million deal at the end of February. The team has also taken a similar strategy with DH Billy Butler and reliever Joakim Soria — and, given the amount of young talent the team currently has in Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, it’s likely that they’ll attempt to lock up a couple more players in the near future.

On that note, Royals GM Dayton Moore recently told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel the following:

[Owners] Dan and David Glass are determined to keep as many of these young players together as we can, knowing full well that it has to fit within our salary structure and our payroll going forward… It’s going to get a little sticky for us, it’s going to get a little hairy as we get into 2014-15-16.

It could, indeed, get sticky and hairy for the Royals.


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