Ben Sheets to throw for potential suitors on Tuesday

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Tim Kurkjian reports that Ben Sheets is tan, rested and ready:

“That was my first summer off. No baseball player can even remember the
last summer he had off. I did July 4th and Labor Day with the family.
The time off refreshed me. It made me realize how much I love baseball.
I missed the camaraderie with the guys. I feel fantastic . . . It was frustrating not being able to play, but it made me want to play even more in the 2010 season.”

His first step towards that goal comes Tuesday when Sheets is going to audition for anyone who might be interested at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Sheets claims to be healthy and says that “they’re going to like what they see.”

Lots of teams are likely interested, including the Mets, Phillies and if they have any brains, the Dodgers.  Kurjian says, however, that Seattle may be a dark horse, given Sheets’ relationship with GM Jack Zduriencik, who used to be in Milwaukee.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.