The Lee deal has to be done before gametime tonight

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Buster Olney reports that the Yankees want a resolution regarding
Cliff Lee “before the game” this evening. Olney also says that the Yankees told the
Mariners that their current offer is their last and best offer.  There has been no serious suggestion that the Mariners are balking. And keep in mind — while we’ve been talking about this for nearly seven hours now, it’s still only 9:15 AM in Seattle.  If you’re in the Mariners’ front office you get a cup of coffee, you check your fantasy standings, you accept the Yankees’ offer and you get on with your day.

Also, Olney and others are reporting that the Yankees have not asked for a negotiating window during which to work out an extension for Lee.  Which makes sense, because if the Yankees won’t talk about extensions during the season with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, why in the hell would they do it for Lee?

Besides, it’s not like the Yankees won’t be able to match any offers for Lee if he decides to his free agency this winter.  If Lee wants to stay in New York, he will.  If he doesn’t, it will be for reasons other than money, and those are things the Yankees can’t do a thing about anyway.

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.