Brewers “suspend” extension talks with Zack Greinke

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Zack Greinke appears headed for free agency.

According to beat reporter Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers have “suspended” long-term contract negotiations with the 28-year-old right-hander and have no plans at this time to re-start the talks at a later date.

Greinke had quite an Opening Week, hiring agent Casey Close, watching fellow right-handed starter Matt Cain sign a five-year, $112.5 million extension with the Giants, and shutting out the Cardinals over seven innings in a spectacular regular-season debut.

Greinke posted a 3.83 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 28 outings last season, fanning 201 batters in 171 2/3 innings. If he pitches as well (or better) in 2012, he should really cash in this winter. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner is currently scheduled to become a free agent five days after the end of this year’s World Series.

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.