Carl Crawford is hurting, so Rays call up Matt Joyce

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Carl Crawford exited last night’s game with a sore left shoulder, so while the Rays await word on the seriousness of the injury they called up outfielder Matt Joyce from Triple-A. Joyce missed out on possibly being the Opening Day starter in right field because of a spring elbow injury, but was playing well at Triple-A and is deserving of the promotion regardless of Crawford’s status.
Acquired from the Tigers for Edwin Jackson last offseason, Joyce has hit .275/.376/.501 with 32 homers and 56 doubles in 192 games at Triple-A. He strikes out a lot and won’t hit for much of a batting average, but as a left-handed bat with 25-homer power would make a nice platoon starter at the very least if needed.
To clear a roster spot for Joyce the Rays demoted Dioner Navarro to Triple-A. Navarro has been the Opening Day starter for the past four seasons, but hit just .216/.268/.314 in 151 games dating back to last season and the emergence of John Jaso combined with Kelly Shoppach’s presence made him the odd man out behind the plate. If the Rays can find a taker for the rest of his $2.1 million contract, they’d almost surely dump Navarro.

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.