Livan Hernandez is the target of a money laundering probe

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This is … unexpected. According to this Spanish language reportwith English summary here — Livan Hernandez is the target of a federal probe related to money laundering on behalf of convicted Puerto Rican drug trafficker Angel Ayala Vázquez, known to his criminal friends as “El Buster.”  (El Buster?). Even if you don’t speak Spanish, please click the Spanish link for the awesome picture.  Antonia Alfonseca was likely unavailable for comment.

As near a can be told from these second and third level reports, Immigration and Customs agents testified in “El Buster’s” trial that a warehouse full of exotic cars and other expensive luxury items allegedly belonging to El Buster were registered to Hernandez.  The feds, when asked, confirmed that the investigation could lead to criminal charges for Hernandez.

There’s obviously a lot more to this — and I’m sure we’ll hear more soon — but it’s all we have now.

UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington fills in some of the pieces here, as well as passes along a short statement from the Nationals:

A team spokesman said Wednesday that the Nationals “are aware of, and continue to monitor, the situation as it pertains to the Angel Manuel Ayala trial.” Hernandez, through the spokesman, declined to comment.

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.