The Nationals re-signed shortstop Alcides Escobar to a one-year deal Tuesday, the team announced. Escobar was acquired by the club in a July trade with the Kansas City Royals and he became a stable everyday player in the middle of their infield amid a season that saw the front office tear its roster down at the trade deadline.
After having not appeared in the majors since 2018, Escobar resurfaced with the Nationals and hit .288 with a .744 OPS and 21 doubles in 75 games. Manager Davey Martinez utilized Escobar out of the No. 2 spot in the order, typically in front of Juan Soto. Though not the stolen base threat he used to be, the 34-year-old made solid contact and got on base enough to score 53 runs.
Washington retains Escobar ahead of a 2022 season that’s not expected to feature one of the most formidable rosters the team has put out over the last 10 years. Young infielders Luis García and Carter Kieboom project to slot on either side of shortstop next season with Josh Bell manning first base. Escobar’s prowess with the glove will be vital in stabilizing the Nationals’ infield defense given the ups and downs García and Kieboom showed this year.
Whether Escobar will be an everyday player once again remains to be seen. The Nationals created a significant crater at shortstop when they traded Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline. The free agent market will include several star shortstops this offseason including Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Báez and Marcus Semien as well as accomplished veterans Chris Taylor and Jonathan Villar.
Should the Nationals bring in another shortstop on a long-term deal, Escobar would shift back to the utility role he was originally expected to have. He played 18 games at second base last season and got some reps at third base in the minor leagues over the past few seasons.
For now, however, he’s the most qualified shortstop on their roster.