ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Rays and shortstop Yunel Escobar have agreed to a two-year contract extension covering 2015 and 2016 with a one-year club option for 2017. The extension, worth a guaranteed $13 million, replaces the 2015 club option. Escobar will contribute to the Rays Baseball Foundation during the course of the deal.
"Yunel has been a tremendous addition to our infield and was a critical part of our success last year," said Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. "He brings enthusiasm and energy to our group on a daily basis to go along with his abilities on the field. We are excited to have the opportunity to extend his time in our uniform."
Escobar, 31, begins his second season as the Rays starting shortstop. In 2013 he played in a career-high 153 games and made 149 starts, second most by a shortstop in club history behind Julio Lugo (155 in 2005). After establishing club records with a .989 fielding percentage (seven errors in 610 chances) and 53 consecutive errorless games at shortstop, he was named a finalist for the American League Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Over the past three seasons (2011-13), Escobar's .982 fielding percentage ranks third in the majors (min. 400 starts) behind Baltimore's J.J. Hardy (.988) and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins (.983). According to Stats LLC, Escobar's .853 zone rating over the past two seasons (2012-13) leads all major league shortstops (min. 200 starts).
At the plate, Escobar owns a career .278 batting average and .350 on-base percentage. In 2013, he batted .256 (130-for-508) with nine home runs, 56 RBI and a career-high 27 doubles. After the All-Star break, his .362 on-base percentage ranked fifth among major league shortstops.
Escobar made his first trip to the postseason in 2013 and led the Rays with a .421 batting average (8-for-19). In the final three games of the American League Division Series he became the first player in club history to record multiple hits in three straight postseason games.
A native of Havana, Cuba, Escobar is the eighth Cuban-born player in Rays history. He was acquired from the Miami Marlins on Dec. 4, 2012 in exchange for infielder Derek Dietrich.