Alcides back with Nats on 1-year deal

October 8th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- At this time last fall, 's Major League future was uncertain. Less than two days after the end of the 2021 regular season, the Nationals re-signed the veteran infielder to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

“I love him,” manager Dave Martinez said of Escobar in late August. “His attitude’s been tremendous and he’ll do anything, hit anywhere, do whatever you ask him to do.”

Escobar gives the Nationals a proven solution to one of their infield needs. He could return to his starting role at shortstop, and he also has the versatility to move around the infield at second and third. Additionally, he has played 11 games in the outfield over his career. Reaching a deal this early in October addresses a positional need, while also giving the Nats defensive options as they shape their 2022 roster.

The 34-year-old Escobar, who had been out of the big leagues since 2018, quickly settled in with Washington, when he was acquired from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations on July 3. He started at second base and shortstop, and he became the everyday starting shortstop when the Nats dealt Trea Turner to the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline.

Offensively, Escobar thrived atop the batting order and made the majority of his plate appearances in the No. 2 spot. He finished his 12th Major League season slashing .288/.340/.404 with a .744 OPS, reaching base safely in his final 18 games.

After joining the Nationals on July 3, Escobar ranked first on the club in doubles (21) and hits (92), and he was third in batting average with runners in scoring position (.379). Among National League hitters, his 21 doubles were tied for fifth, while his 92 hits and his .379 average with runners in scoring position ranked sixth since July 3.

“He moves the baseball, and I like that about him,” Martinez said in early September. “He understands the game ... He's not going to take a whole lot of walks, but he's going to put the ball in play."

Escobar was highly regarded for his leadership, which he exuded as he played between 21-year-old Luis García and 24-year-old third baseman Carter Kieboom.

The 2021 season marked a comeback for Escobar, who has built a championship resume. In 2015, Escobar was named an American League All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, and he earned the AL Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award en route to capturing a World Series title with the Royals. Since the end of 2018, he had been working his way back to the Majors by playing in Japan and in Triple-A ball.