It wasn’t much talked about this spring, but one of the more interesting job competitions was for the Braves’ fifth starter’s job. The candidates: lefty Mike Minor and right hander Brandon Beachy. Frank Wren announced today that Beachy is the victor, with Minor being sent down to, er, the minors.
This is one of those situations in which the better overall pitcher probably lost, but did so for understandable reasons. Minor has way more upside than than Beachy — he was a first round pick whereas Beachy was an amateur free agent — but the Braves are in win-now mode and Beachy is a more finished product. If Atlanta wasn’t poised to compete, there would be a stronger temptation to see if Minor could swim in the big rapids.
Not that Beachy is any slouch. He was called up late last year and and made three good starts as the Braves clung to the wild card. Before that he seriously impressed in 35 appearances (13 of which were starts) in AAA and AA. Minor was himself impressive across AAA and AA, though he was more shaky during his nine appearances with the big club.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see both of these guys in the Braves’ rotation over the course of the season, and they’ll probably both have permanent homes there in 2012 and beyond. But for now Atlanta has gone with Beachy. And I tend to think it’s the right move.
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.