The Tampa Bay Rays have signed shortstop Yunel Escobar to a two-year, $13 million contract extension that includes a $7 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2017, according to a team announcement. The deal was first reported by Robbie Knopf of Rays Colored Glasses earlier in the week, and the option value was reported by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
#rays Escobar gets $5 mil in 2015, $7 mil in '16. Club option for '17 is $7 mil or $1 mil buyout— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) April 5, 2014
The Rays held a $5 million team option for 2015 on Escobar, but today's new contract replaces that and adds one year (potentially two years if they pick up the 2017 option) of team control. Escobar is making $5 million this year, but will make an average annual value of $6.5 million over the next two years, likely due to his strong performance last season. In his first season in Tampa, Escobar hit .256 with 9 HR and 56 RBI in 153 games after coming over from the Marlins in an offseason trade. He was also one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, ranking first in the American League in fielding percentage (.989).
Escobar, 31, will now get the chance to test the free agent market after his age-34 or age-35 season, depending on if the Rays pick up the option or not. He is the second Ray to be extended in the last few days, joining pitcher Chris Archer, who signed a six-year, $25.5 million deal on Thursday.
In eight major league seasons with the Braves (2007-2010), Blue Jays (2010-2012) and Rays (2013), Escobar is a lifetime .278 hitter with 62 HR and 354 RBI. He is known as a very good defensive player, ranking 20th in the majors among current players in Defensive WAR (9.6).