Carlos Gonzalez started 55 games in center field, 51 in left and 34 in right last season, but his days of roving around the outfield are over, at least if Rockies manager Jim Tracy has anything to say about it.
According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, Tracy said today that Gonzalez will be the regular left fielder for the Rockies this season.
“He’s earned it,” said Tracy. “You have to show respect for the player.”
Gonzalez, 24, won his first career Gold Glove last season after finishing with the second highest fielding percentage among National League outfielders. Advanced metrics weren’t quite as favorable to him last season, but he has rated well above average in left field during his brief career, according to UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) on FanGraphs.
While Gonzalez will be the regular left fielder for the club, Dexter Fowler is projected to start in center and Seth Smith will play right.
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.