Brandon Webb hasn’t appeared in a major league game since Opening Day of the 2009 season due to lingering shoulder woes. He latched on with the Rangers last offseason, but struggled over four minor league rehab starts before requiring another surgery in August. However, he’s still working hard to get his career back on track.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com was told by Webb’s agent, Jonathan Maurer, that the 32-year-old right-hander is currently throwing “free and easy and pain free” off flat ground and hopes to throw in front of scouts at some point.
Webb’s velocity was nowhere to be found during his rehab starts last year and and he endured plenty of setbacks following his previous surgery, so his current comeback attempt faces pretty long odds. Just in case it wasn’t obvious enough already, shoulder injuries sure are a drag.
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.