Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper picks football over baseball

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Riley Cooper was picked by the Rangers in the 25th round of last June’s draft as an outfielder at the University of Florida, but he was also Tim Tebow’s second-favorite target as a wide receiver for the Gators and said yesterday that he plans to pursue a football career:

Football’s definitely the route I want to take. Toward the last couple of weeks of the football season, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. That’s my makeup, my mentality. I’m just a football player, not a baseball player.

While many two-sport stars have chosen baseball over football, Cooper’s decision seems like a no-brainer given that he’s projected to go in the fourth round of the NFL draft. He was set to get a $250,000 bonus from the Rangers, but last year the average fourth-round pick in the NFL got a bonus of around $450,000 as part of a package worth about $2.25 million.
Along those same lines, if I were a fourth-round pick as a baseball blogger (overdraft!) and a 25th-round pick as a male model (underdraft!) I’d probably have to give up my career of being sexy. In this case the decision is doubly easy because in addition to being a significantly higher pick in football, Cooper will be in the NFL next season whereas it would take him at least a few years to advance through the minors before joining the Rangers (and there’s a strong chance he’d never get there).
Higher pick, quicker path, and more immediate money. Good luck on Sundays.

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.