The Yankees are close to landing Russell Martin

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I can’t remember the last time so much has been said so early in the offseason about so minor a free agent as Russell Martin, but I guess that’s what happens when Boston and New York get involved.  The latest: Buster Olney says that he believes the Yankees will soon reach an agreement with Russell Martin.*

Martin retains some on-base skills, but his average and power have dissipated in recent years. Last year he hit .248/.347/.332 before going out with a hip injury.

In New York he’d be Jesus Montero insurance. At least that would be the hope, because it would mean that Montero won the starting job.  If he’s starting it means that things haven’t gone according to plan. Or I guess it could mean that Montero has been traded for some pitching in the wake of Cliff Lee signing with the Mystery Mastodons of Midland, Michigan in the Midwestern League.

In other news: Francisco Cervelli: call your agent.

*Note: in an early version of this I said that Buster reported that the Yankees and Martin would “soon announce an agreement.”  That was obviously me reading Buster’s tweet too quickly and sloppily. Apologies.

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.