MLB scouts and front-office types have been buzzing about Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for a while, but he didn’t become a hot topic among most fans until his ridiculous scouting video made him an internet sensation early last month. Well, he’s back with another one.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus got the first look at the footage and once again breaks it down in meticulous and entertaining fashion. This one mostly keeps the focus on baseball, but we do get Cespedes and former NFL running back Ahman Green swimming in a river at the end. No big deal. Oh, and the Star Wars opening credits are back.
We also see some of the teams who have visited Cespedes in the Dominican Republic over the past few weeks. You’ll notice Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and manager Ozzie Guillen, Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, Phillies special adviser Pat Gillick, Tigers special assistant Willie Horton and the shadow of Cubs president Theo Epstein.
As far as when Cespedes will be available for MLB teams, he is hoping to establish residency in the Dominican Republic within the next few days. Once that’s done, he’ll have to get clearance from MLB and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. This process will drag into January, but the expectation is that he’ll be in spring training with an MLB team.
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.