Carlos Beltran fitted for custom knee brace and 'not close to returning'

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Initial timetables for Carlos Beltran’s recovery from knee surgery had him back in the Mets’ lineup by early May, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the All-Star center fielder is still “not close to returning” and “was fitted for a custom knee brace” after meeting with doctors in Colorado last week.
Beltran was not cleared to resume running following the post-surgery exam and Martino notes that the Mets now seem unsure when he’ll “take that important step.” At this point any timetables are out the window.
In fact, because of the lack of progress he’s made recently, Martino speculates that Beltran returning by June would now actually be “optimistic” and adds that “it’s not clear whether Beltran is considering further surgery that could threaten his season.”
In other words, yuck.

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.