Adrian Gonzalez’s shoulder surgery may be more significant than initially believed

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Adrian Gonzalez repeatedly making it clear that he has no plans to remain in San Diego long term could motivate the Padres to trade the All-Star first baseman with one season left on his contract and now Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that there’s some doubt about Gonzalez’s health status as well.

Three weeks ago Gonzalez had surgery to “clean up” his right shoulder after playing through pain for much of the season. Initially the Padres said he’d be fully healthy in time for spring training, but yesterday Gonzalez revealed he may not be cleared to swing a bat for 4-5 months.

The four-month mark would come around a week into spring training and the five-month mark would arrive about a week before Opening Day, so based on those timetables any kind of setback could mean missed games in April. Gonzalez’s agent, John Boggs, put a slightly different spin on the timetable:

I think what Adrian is saying it that he’s going to be very cautious and take it a step at a time. He’s the type of player who can pick up a bat and be ready in a week. But what he’s saying is he’s going to take his time and make sure [his shoulder is] ready. The timeline has always been four months. He’ll be ready, but he’s not going to burst out of the gates if he’s not.

It’s an interesting situation because Gonzalez may not be exceptionally motivated to rush himself back from surgery for a team he’s not going to play for beyond 2011, particularly since the strength of his 2011 season will go a long way toward determining the size of his contract as a free agent next offseason. Should he rush back to help a team that may trade him anyway? Should he rush back if it means risking his health and performance on the verge of free agency?

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.