This morning I wrote about how Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies leaves Carl Pavano as the top starting pitcher on the free agent market, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Pavano’s “other suitors” aside from the Twins “are pessimistic and think he’s going back to Minnesota.”
That jibes with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s latest report, which speculates that Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is no longer aggressively pursuing Pavano.
Melvin told Haudricourt that he got in touch with Pavano’s agent yesterday, but “just to gauge interest.”
Pavano resurrected his career in Minnesota, going 22-15 with a 3.97 ERA in 44 starts for the Twins after coming over in a mid-2009 deal from the Indians, so it makes sense that he’d want to re-sign.
However, with the Brewers and Nationals also being linked often to Pavano–and the Rangers perhaps jumping into the bidding late after missing out on Lee–there was speculation that he could be in line for a three-year deal, which seemingly would have taken the Twins out of the mix. If instead he’s choosing between two-year offers, the Twins can indeed be viewed as front-runners.
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.