UPDATE: White Sox still in the hunt for Damon

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UPDATE, 9:28pm: A few interesting nuggets from Rosenthal:

Damon played golf Monday with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski and broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.

And Damon’s wife, Michelle, “would prefer him to play in a more cosmopolitan city than Detroit.”

Still, Damon is going to sign where he finds the most money and it remains to be seen if the White Sox will up their offer.

UPDATE, 8:49pm: Rosenthal now says that a new offer has not been made by the White Sox and their original proposal is not as lucrative as Detroit’s.  Well, that was fun while it lasted.

8:30pm: According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, a potential agreement between the White Sox and free agent outfielder Johnny Damon is “gaining momentum.”

It’s a bit of a surprise considering the Tigers’ deep involvement with Damon as recently as Monday, but the news also serves as a reminder that we should never count White Sox GM Kenny Williams out of the hunt for any available free agent or trade target.  Rosenthal is hearing that Williams and Co. have made a second offer, and it’s probably safe to assume that the new proposal is either equally or more lucrative than Detroit’s standing bid.

Damon, 36, batted .282/.365/.489 with 24 homers, 82 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 107 runs scored in 550 at-bats last season for the
Yankees and would likely serve as Chicago’s starting left fielder this year if an agreement is reached.  He has also been courted this winter by the Braves and Rays, though we haven’t heard much from either team in several weeks.  Damon is represented by super-agent Scott Boras.

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.