Angels not counting on Escobar, may go after Halladay

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Kelvim Escobar went from the disabled list to the rotation to the
bullpen and then back to the DL in the span of about a week last month,
and now Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that he “hasn’t picked up a baseball in weeks and has to be considered a long shot to pitch again this season.”

General manager Tony Reagins said yesterday that Escobar is still
experiencing “a deep ache” in his surgically repaired shoulder, adding:
“We wanted him to back off and that’s what he’s doing. We’re not
writing him off, by any means. We’re going to move forward cautiously.
If we get him back, great. If we don’t get him back, then we don’t get
him back.”

On a related note, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports
that the Angels “are looking for late-inning relief help” and have
targeted Scott Downs and Brandon League of the Blue Jays, Chad Qualls
of the Diamondbacks, and Rafael Betancourt of the Indians. And of
course DiGiovanna also notes that the Angels would be interested in a
front-of-the-rotation starter like … drum roll please! … Roy
Halladay.

In laying out potential deals for Halladay yesterday Matthew Pouliot speculated
that the Angels could give up Jordan Walden, Brandon Wood, Trevor
Reckling, and Matt Sweeney. On the other hand, DiGiovanna writes that
“Halladay would probably cost the Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, a top
pitching prospect such as Trevor Reckling or Jordan Walden, top hitting
prospect Brandon Wood and a young big leaguer such as Erick Aybar or
Howie Kendrick.”

Halladay is an exceptionally good pitcher and the Blue Jays should
be holding out for an exceptionally good package of players in return
for him, but there’s just no way that their asking price is anything
close to Weaver, Reckling/Walden, Wood, and Kendrick/Aybar if they
actually want to make a deal. For one thing, Weaver is 26 years old,
has a 3.60 career ERA, makes the MLB minimum, and is under the Angels’
control through 2012.

Does anyone think that upgrading from Weaver to Halladay–who’s 32
years old, makes about 40 times as much money, and becomes a free agent
after next season–is worth Wood, Walden, and
Kendrick? If the Blue Jays want prospects like Walden or Wood, they can
get them. If the Blue Jays want young major leaguers like Weaver or
Kendrick, they can get them.

But as the deals for Dan Haren, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Josh
Beckett, and various other top starters and the rumored offers for Jake
Peavy have shown in recent years asking for a couple of choice names
from Column A and a couple of choice names from Column B just isn’t how
these things tend to work.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.