Marlins considering options at third base after sending Matt Dominguez to minors

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As recently as last week 21-year-old prospect Matt Dominguez was considered the favorite to make the jump from Double-A and claim the Marlins’ starting job at third base, but today they sent him to the minors.

Florida newspapers were full of praise for Dominguez when it looked like he’d get the job and his defense gets universally outstanding reviews, but his bat simply isn’t big-league ready. He hit just .252 with a modest .744 OPS in 138 games at Double-A last season, more or less equaling his career marks, and went just 8-for-42 (.190) this spring.

There’s little sense in rushing any 21-year-old prospect to the majors for a team that’s unlikely to contend anyway, and doing so with a guy whose offensive game still has plenty of rough edges makes even less sense. Credit the Marlins for realizing that, although by putting so many eggs in the Dominguez basket they’re left with some pretty unappealing fallback options at third base.

In fact, their choices are so ugly that Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com speculated they might pursue 36-year-old Pedro Feliz, who’s currently in Royals camp and hit .218 with a ghastly .240 on-base percentage last year. In-house options include Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs, Donnie Murphy, and Emilio Bonifacio. Florida is no doubt hoping that whoever starts at third base on Opening Day is only keeping the position warm for Dominguez, but he’s no sure thing to light up Triple-A pitchers and force his way back into their plans at age 21. The jury is still very much out on his bat.

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.