Derrek Lee rejected a trade to the Angels

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Earlier this afternoon Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reported that Derrek Lee would block any potential move by exercising the no-trade clause in his contract and now MLB.com has further details that he actually did reject a trade to the Angels.
Asked to comment on the report, Lee said: “There may be a time when I’m ready to talk about it, but not now.”
Lee has posted an OPS above .800 in 10 straight seasons, but the impending free agent in the final season of a five-year, $65 million deal is currently hitting just .248/.333/.387 in 97 games for a .720 OPS. He’s hit much better recently, going 26-for-82 (.317) with nine extra-base hits in the past 19 games.
Lee will no doubt be criticized for not accepting a trade to a “contender” but it’s worth noting that the Angels are nearly as far out of a playoff spot (8.5 games) as the Cubs (9.5 games) right now.

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.