Amid trade rumors Cubs put Ryan Dempster on disabled list

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I guess this means the Ryan Dempster trade speculation can be put on hold for a bit.

Dempster has been placed on the disabled list due to a strained right lat muscle, with the Cubs telling Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that the injury is “not considered serious.”

The injury comes with Dempster in the midst of a 22-inning scoreless streak that includes three straight starts with zero runs allowed against the Red Sox, Twins, and Brewers.

Dempster’s public sit-down with team president Theo Epstein last week created headlines and has everyone believing it’s only a matter of time before the Cubs trade the 35-year-old impending free agent, but reports about a deal possibly being done by the end of this month are now moot.

He’ll have plenty of time to come back and prove he’s healthy again before the trade deadline, but if the Cubs are going to move Dempster it’ll be in July.

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.