Rays and Wade Davis agree to long-term contract worth up to $35.1 million

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Wade Davis is entering his second full season in the majors and wouldn’t have been arbitration eligible until 2013, but today the Rays announced that they’ve signed the 25-year-old right-hander to a long-term contract extension worth up to $35.1 million.

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times the contract is worth at least $12.6 million for four seasons, with the Rays holding team options for 2015, 2016, and 2017 that if exercised would be worth an additional $22.5 million.

If all seven years of the contract are exercised the Rays would be buying out Davis’ final two seasons of minimum salaried serfdom, three seasons of arbitration eligibility, and first two seasons of free agency. Getting all that for $35.1 million would end up being a tremendous bargain for Tampa Bay, but that is offset by the risking of handing $12.6 million in guaranteed money to a young pitcher who would have been cheap until 2013 and was already under team control through 2015.

Davis, who was a third-round pick in 2004 and debuted in late-2009, has a 4.02 ERA, .253 opponents’ batting average, and 149/75 K/BB ratio in 204 career innings. He looks like a solid mid-rotation starter right now and may still have the potential to develop into a solid No. 2 guy.

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.