Thanks, HBT readers

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I’m back in my fortified compound on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio.  For the first time in a week I’m operating on a respectable night’s sleep. The Winter Meetings are fantastic, but they have to end sometime. Baseball writers aren’t exactly rock stars when it comes to this sort of thing, so if the meetings didn’t end everyone would simply die.

But we survived.  Frankly, I’m not sure how Gleeman, Pouliot, Silva and Short did. They posted about eleventeen hundred things since Monday while I was being a relative slacker. Can’t wait for the disability claims for the carpal tunnel (note: don’t tell those guys we’re going to deny the claims because of some waiver they didn’t know they signed).

And I’ll be damned if you guys didn’t read all of those posts. The last four days were, by far, the biggest four days in the history of HBT in terms of site traffic. You like us, you really like us, and we’re as grateful as we can be that you come back here to get your baseball fix.

Thanks, HBT readers.  You’re the best.

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.