Cardinals sign Schumaker to two-year deal

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The Cardinals signed second baseman Skip Schumaker to a two-year, $4.7 million contract on Monday, avoiding arbitration.
It’s a modest surprise, given that the two sides had to close a wide gap for 2010. The Cardinals proposed a $1.45 million salary for Schumaker’s first year of arbitration, while Schumaker requiested $2.75 million, nearly twice as much.
Another part of the equation was that the Cardinals appeared to be flrting with free agent Felipe Lopez as an alternative at second base. Those talks have quieted, though.
In his first year as a second baseman, Schumaker hit .303/.364/.393 while serving as the Cardinals’ primary leadoff hitter. The former outfielder is a career .301/.356/.399 hitter in 1,327 at-bats.
Considering that he’s 30 and still a long shot to last as regular second baseman, this could well go down as Schumaker’s biggest payday. He’ll make $2 million this year and $2.7 million in 2011. He won’t be eligible for free agency for the first time until after 2012.

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.