The Pirates haven’t had a great week, public relations-wise. First there was that whole mess with whether or not John Russell was going to be fired or whether he got an extension or whatever. Then they went and fired their racing pierogi for insubordination and caught all kinds of hell for it.
It’s always hard for an organization to admit when it erred, but the Pirates have done that, and have now re-hired the pierogi. Of course the Pirates say that the bad publicity over l’affaire pierogi had nothing to do with it. Rather, it was because “he had not been dismissed in accordance with company procedures.”
In other news, (a) the Pirates have company procedures that govern the employment conditions for guys who dress up in pierogi suits and run around the ballpark; and (b) Pirates employees should now feel a lot more comfortable about ripping their employers in the Internet.
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.