UPDATE: Yankees invite C.J. Wilson to New York

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The competition for the top starting pitcher of this year’s free agent class is beginning to intensify.

After the Angels wined and dined C.J. Wilson’s agent Bob Garber last night in Milwaukee, Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Yankees have invited the free-agent left-hander to New York to meet with “team decision-makers.”

The invitation was made when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with Garber this afternoon. While Garber also represents free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, he said this particular meeting was mostly focused on Wilson.

“I told him where we were at, they understood, and want us to come out,” Garber said at the general managers’ meetings. “I think it’s a good fit. We have a lot of teams we have to narrow down. I think the Yankees are a team that we’ve narrowed down as a team we want to spend a little time with.”

“At this point, there’s still six or seven teams we’re in serious talks with,” Garber said, counting the Yankees among them. “(Cashman) knew (Wilson) was the Cliff Lee of this year and didn’t want to come out short. I just liked his aggressiveness.”

Garber told Carig that the meeting in New York, which will take place on an unspecified date, will be attended by Cashman, Yankees director of pro personnel Billy Eppler and Hal Steinbrenner.

While Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times wrote yesterday that Wilson is likely to command a six-year deal in the $100 million range, Carig has him around five years and $90 million. It’s still very early, but having the Yankees involved in the conversation will surely up the ante for all interested teams.

UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Wilson and his agent have requested a visit to the Yankees before next month’s winter meetings. The Bombers are said to be considering the request.

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.