Yesterday the Blue Jays gave Yunel Escobar his first day off this season and Omar Vizquel got the start at shortstop, making history by becoming the oldest player to ever appear at the position.
Bobby Wallace held the previous mark by appearing in 12 games as a 44-year-old shortstop for the Cardinals in 1918, but Vizquel broke his record by making the start at age 45.
When informed about the record, Vizquel told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that he’s proud of all the hard work that enabled him remain an asset defensively:
When you go back 100 years to look for a record, it is pretty amazing, actually. I can’t believe that I’m still jumping around and playing shortstop at this age. I feel pretty good about myself, I feel pretty good about my physical condition. It hasn’t been a year of work, it has been constantly working out every year, trying to improve your speed or your flexibility. It has been really hard work.
Another way to stay young? Yelling at umpires from the bench until they eject you from a game you’re not even playing. Vizquel had a pretty busy week.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.