UPDATE: This one’s done, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times. Despite reports of a “twist,” the only hold-up now is a routine physical for all three involved players.
WEDNESDAY: From MLB.com’s Corey Brock comes word that the Padres have landed shortstop Jason Bartlett from the Rays in exchange for two relievers — Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell.
The Rays are prepared to go with the slick-fielding Reid Brignac at shortstop next season and dealt from their surplus of middle infielders in order to tidy up a bullpen that had been ravaged by free agent departures.
Bartlett, 31, posted a poor .254/.324/.350 batting line this past season and probably won’t make much of an improvement while playing half of his games at the massive PETCO Park. But he’s an upgrade over what the Padres trotted out in 2010 and he did register an 879 OPS in 2009 — just one year ago.
Ramos, 26, posted a 3.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 96 innings this year at Triple-A. He has some starting experience but will almost certainly be used as a reliever in Tampa. Russell, 27, registered a 1.21 WHIP over 12 relief appearances in 2010.
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.