Former top SF Giants pitching prospect signs with Cubs after seven-year stint in NPB
The details of the contract are not yet known, but given his long absence stateside, it is likely a minor league deal with a possible camp invite. Escobar was originally signed by the Texas Rangers as an international free agent in 2008. He was shipped to the Giants in 2010.
This proved to be a shrewd move by San Francisco as the left-handed hurler became one of the better prospects in baseball, ranking as high as No. 56 according to Baseball America prior to the 2014 season.
By 2014, Escobar had reached Triple-A in his age-22 season and Giants fans were eager to see what he could do on a major league mound. However, he became a different footnote in Giants history as he was shipped to the Boston Red Sox along with Heath Hembree in exchange for former NL Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy right before the 2014 deadline.
This was a steep cost for the Giants given that Peavy was on an expiring contract and both Hembree and Escobar were well-regarded prospects in the Giants' farm system. However, Peavy was excellent for San Francisco down the stretch, posting a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts and helping the Giants clinch their third title in five seasons.
Unfortunately, Escobar's time with the Red Sox was brief as he collected only two total innings in 2014 and he was eventually scooped up off of waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016. The lefty pitcher struggled to the tune of a 7.23 ERA in 25 outings that year and has not returned to the majors since then.
That said, the 31-year-old pitcher did make a name for himself in the NPB, notably with the Yokohama Bay Stars. Across seven years, he tallied a 3.17 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, and a 2.68 SO/W ratio while working primarily out of the bullpen.
Prior to joining the Cubs organization, Escobar had recorded five scoreless outings with the Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League this year. The Cardenales are managed by Escobar's cousin and former major league pitcher, Kelvim Escobar.