Chris Carpenter declines season-ending surgery, will keep pitching

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Chris Carpenter got the diagnosis he didn’t want to hear Friday: thoracic outlet syndrome. Still, he intends to forgo surgery and attempt to work through the nerve problem.

Kenny Rogers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Noah Lowry are a few of the notable major leaguers to have undergone surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of the nerves that can lead to pain in the neck and arm and loss of feeling in the fingers. Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb was diagnosed last year and missed the rest of the season. Surgery can involve the removal of a rib to take pressure of the nerves, but it doesn’t always.

Carpenter’s plan appears to be to continue his comeback and then undergo surgery in the offseason. He threw a bullpen session today and plans to throw again on Monday. Even if he does  manage to successfully complete a rehab assignment and make it back to the majors, the odds would seem to be against him lasting the season. Still, as long as he can’t make things worth by trying, it’s admirable that he’ll give it a go.

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.