Eduardo Escobar entered last season as Minnesota's starting shortstop, but lost the job in May when he landed on the DL with a hamstring injury. Eduardo Nunez got hot at the plate and kept Escobar on the bench when he returned. After Nunez was traded in July, Escobar briefly got his starting job back, but struggled at the plate and then was benched again in favor of Jorge Polanco. Escobar ended up getting most of his playing time the final month of the season at third base with several other third basemen hurt. Escobar saw a decrease in power with a 107-point drop in slugging as he hit just six home runs after smacking 12 in 2015. His glove also took a step back with a -6.1 UZR at shortstop. Escobar can play three positions and the outfield in a pinch, and his prior two seasons show he has some power, so he'll add value as a utility player. His upside is limited since he doesn't draw walks (5.6 percent walk rate) and he offers almost no stolen-base potential.
Escobar started at shortstop and went 2-for-3 in Wednesday's loss to Houston. He's hitting .306 (11-for-36) this spring. Despite his strong showing at the plate this spring, he looks set to begin the season in a utility role as there's been little talk that he'll overtake Jorge Polanco for the starting shortstop role. However, Escobar could move into the starting lineup at shortstop if Polanco falters or at third base if Miguel Sano struggles with his glove and becomes the DH.
Escobar agreed to a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Twins on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. He was believed to be a non-tender candidate, but ultimately Escobar and the Twins were able to land on a number that was suitable for both sides. Escobar hit just .236/.280/.338 in his age-27 season, but he was significantly better at the plate in 2015 and can play shortstop, second base and third.
Escobar went 2-for-4 with a walk, solo homer and scored twice in Tuesday's game against the Royals. Escobar's fourth-inning blast was his sixth of the season, and his first in the team's last 51 games. Tuesday also marked the switch-hitting infielder's first RBI and run since Sept. 15, as Escobar has had a brutal final month of the 2016 campaign. Entering the contest, he was hitting a pathetic .089/.150/.089 through 56 September at-bats, light years beyond his worst numbers for any month this year.
Escobar is out of Wednesday's lineup against the Indians, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. Jorge Polanco will start at shortstop while Escobar gets the night off. Having gone 5-for-18 (.278) with two doubles over the last seven games, Escobar has remained consistent with his season line of .266/.298/.385.
Escobar is out of the lineup Sunday against the Blue Jays. Escobar will return to the bench after drawing four straight starts in the Minnesota infield. In his place, Trevor Plouffe will start at third base, while Jorge Polanco gets the nod at shortstop.