Charlie Morton undergoes Tommy John surgery

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UPDATE: That was fast. According to Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Morton had Tommy John surgery today in Pensacola, Florida. He will miss the rest of the season and figures to be in rehab-mode for the early part of 2013.

11:51 PM: Charlie Morton has been on the disabled list since late May with an elbow injury and now the Pirates fear the right-hander may need season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Morton was working his way back from the DL when he “tweaked” his elbow during a bullpen session Sunday, at which point the Pirates shut him down again and sent him to be examined by a specialist.

Morton was a pleasant surprise last season, starting 29 games with a 3.83 ERA for his first sustained big-league success at age 28, but this year the extreme ground-baller has been sidelined first by hip surgery and now by what may prove to be significant elbow problems.

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.