Blue Jays demote struggling starter Brett Cecil to Triple-A

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Along with activating Brandon Morrow from the disabled list the Blue Jays have made another rotation move, surprisingly demoting left-hander Brett Cecil to Triple-A.

Cecil has struggled early on with a 6.86 ERA and 15/11 K/BB ratio in 21 innings spread over four starts, but he went 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA and 117/54 K/BB ratio last season and dropping the 24-year-old from the rotation is definitely unexpected.

Diminished velocity has played a big part in Cecil’s poor performance, with his average fastball clocking in at just 88.3 miles per hour after being at 90.1 mph last season.

He lost against the Yankees last night and afterward manager John Farrell talked about how Cecil’s attempts to “create a little additional velocity” led to control problems and elevated fastballs, so instead of trying to make mechanical adjustments on the fly in the majors they’ll let him do so at Triple-A.

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.